I came to Me Before You late and I mean years late. When everyone was gushing about it in 2012 I was completely unaware and more interested in the Olympics. It entered my radar in 2013 when it was a World Book Night book but only in a vague sort of way. Then in 2015 there was a buzz about the movie and I was intrigued. I wanted to read the book before I saw the film – and my review of the book is here. I am so, so glad I waited so long to read the book. Thanks to my ignorance I only had to wait a little over a month to read the sequel After You.
After You follows Lou 18 months after Will’s suicide. In those 18 months things haven’t gone how I (and every other fan in the world) had hoped for Lou. She’s unhappy – so unhappy it hurts – working in an airport bar (with the worst uniform ever) and just existing day to day. She isn’t living as Will wanted though she tried, and the flat she bought with the money he left her isn’t her home. She can’t move on and after an accident in her home she decides to join a grief support group and also meets paramedic Sam, who will become very important later on.
The Moving On group is full of people I fell in love with and some of the funniest moments in the book came from the Moving On scenes. Moyes is so good at writing secondary characters who are so nuanced and so full of depth that you forget the book isn’t really about them. It is the same with Lou’s family who thankfully are also back and thankfully also very, very funny. I have always loved Lou and Trina’s relationship and the fight their parents have with her mum discovering feminism was so funny.
I don’t actually know how to introduce Lily in a subtle way so here it is: Lily is Will’s daughter. The daughter he had in university and didn’t even know existed. I found this plot twist slightly ridiculous but I was willing to go for the ride. The thing is Lily was a spoilt, brat of a teenager and I found it so hard to sympathise with her. By the end when the reasoning behind her behaviour was explained I understood but bloody hell she was so difficult to like or even care about. Are all teenagers like this? The only teenagers I know are Indian and polite and obviously real people not characters in a book. And yes, I know I sound old but that doesn’t change the fact that Lily was a stereotype of a problematic teenager at some points.
I won’t tell you what the reasoning was behind her behaviour – there should be some things you discover for yourself but it was brilliantly written and something that needs to be highlighted even more.
Of course Lou is the lynchpin holding this story and these characters together. Slowly she hears Will less and less in her head and starts engaging with the world more and more. In paramedic Sam she finds herself falling for someone for the first time since Will. Of course the path of true love doesn’t run smooth and of course I don’t like him at all because he isn’t Will but he is a nice guy. The both of them suffer from guilt at being left behind when their loved ones died and just being with each other helps them both to recover.
What I really, really loved about After You was the ending. At the end of Me Before You Lou travels because Will told her to. At the end fo this book she gets on a plane for a brilliant new job opportunity across the pond because she wanted to and I loved that. I really do hope there is a third book just so we can complete Lou’s story.
I really enjoyed After You even though there were characters I couldn’t get on board with. I would also recommend it to you all but urge you all to read Me Before You first if you already haven’t. You can buy it from all retailers now including Amazon and Waterstones.