The sequel to Me Before You features a totally different path on which the the main character finds herself and it takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery – not only in terms of the fictional thread spun around the characters, but also regarding the reader. Very few sequels have left me with a gaping vortex of questions as this book has and I especially appreciated the honest truths that Moyes raises in between the pages of her writing.
Following the death of the man who might have been her soulmate, Louisa Clark finds herself in a financial sweet-spot. Will Traynor’s assisted suicide left her with a hefty sum of money and one instruction from the adrenaline -fueled, paraplegic millionaire: “Just live”. With the money he left her, she is supposed to travel the world and live out her dreams as she had wanted to do her whole life, but was never able to.
However, she soon realises that being out of her comfort zone is not as comfortable as being around Mum, Dad, Grandad, and even her sister, Treen. After a few trips to foreign countries, she comes back to England where she buys a flat in London. She finds herself stuck in a dead-end job as a waitress at a bar at the airport (it could not have been more ironic). Not only does Louisa now have to deal with the grief she feels after losing Will, but also feelings of guilt over the fact that she is not living life he had wanted her to. After a worrying incident, her family insists that she joins a grief-counselling group in order to deal with her emotions. True to Louisa’s character, she thinks this to be awfully unnecessary, until she meets Ambulance Sam who has to work through the grief of losing his sister.
Whilst dealing with the possibility of loving another man, a surprise knocks on her door in the form of a teenage girl who turns out to be none other than Will Traynor’s daughter. Louisa is the only one who can help her with information, but she soon finds out that by extending a finger, the girl grabbed her whole arm. She is dramatically drawn into the world of reckless adolescent youth, but true to Louisa’s spirit she refuses to let the girl ruin her own life – she becomes the only support structure and constant thing in the life of this storm-in-a-teacup teen. Louisa is forced to relieve the short amount of infinity that she experienced with Will and she is introduced to the post-mortem lives of his parents as she notifies them about their granddaughter.
After You portrays the very themes that a lot of twenty-somethings face today – the loss of a young friend or lover, family versus independence, the fear of leaving your comfort zone to take on an exciting new adventure, and whether or not to take the chance on new love when it comes knocking. Louisa is thrown into the deep end where she takes on the role as caregiver when she should be having fun, like Will instructed her to do. She becomes caught up in his past and present life, and it is clear that she has a lot to go through before she can bury his ghost. The fact that his troublesome daughter reminds her so much of Will, makes it even more difficult to help her and to her herself in the process.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it was an excellent look at how the fictional world of Louisa Clark unravelled, just as we thought she was on her way up. Moyes does an outstanding job of portraying this one-of-a-kind girl and I fell in love with her quirkiness all over again. Simple lessons are learnt here; lessons that we have already forgotten, and it emphasises how powerful the decisions are that we make. They can influence the lives of others long after we are gone.
-Ilze du Plessis
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