Book Review: After You by Jojo Moyes.

How was your weekend? Mine has been chilled. So chilled, that I am now even feeling guilty about it. It’s made me question whether I am really living life fully, because if someone was to release a sequence of pictures showcasing how my weekend was, my couch would heavily feature. And Instagram doesn’t make it any easier because it seems everyone on my timeline was onto something or on some adventure somewhere. It’s really been that weekend for me. And as I write this I am listening to some mellow instrumental music with some rain-forest sounds to inspire me from this mood of nothingness.

So after reading this book I really contemplated whether I should do a book review for it. I mean, it’s one of those sappy, diary-like romance novels that you read, deeply enjoy and move on to the next one. But I have made a personal resolve that I will do a book review for every book I read to the end. Because no matter how shallow the contents of the book may seem, there’s a reason I read on. I am that kind of reader who has to find meaning in a book for me to have that determination or interest to read it to the end.

Me Before You, Kawi Snippets

Let’s rewind, before I knew of Jojo Moyes and her sequels of Me & You, okay that’s Me Before You and After You – I saw almost every lady on my Facebook timeline talking about the movie, “Me Before You” filled with teary emojis and saying how it’s one of the most heartfelt movie they had watched this year. Knowing me and my love for such sappy narratives, I searched for it in one of my streaming sites and there it was, ready for me to indulge in it. It must have been one of those plan-less Friday evening’s, because I remember I was alone armed with a roll of Kleenex. And truth be told, the movie didn’t disappoint as I put the Kleenex into some good use.

The movie was simply about a lady Louisa “Lou” Clark who after moving from one job to another in order to fend for her family, finally lands a job as a caregiver for Will Taylor, an affluent but also daring adventurer who got paralyzed in a tragic accident. Her youthfulness and quirkiness, is what he would need to see him through what is the worst time in his life. From her fashion sense, she had a colorful vintage wardrobe. He on the other hand was quite sour and pessimistic about life and how it had turned out, which is understandable given his circumstance. However, over time she warms up to him and changes his mindset, like she’s able to make him do some mundane things that he had once shelved. She’s able to convince him to visit places and do things he’d enjoyed doing once before with her by his side and it fuels him. This deepens their bond and they experience life in a way neither of them could have imagined.

“So this is it. You are scored on my heart, Clark. You were from the first day you walked in, with your ridiculous clothes and your bad jokes and your complete inability to ever hide a single thing you felt.”

The ending is quite sad, but equally emotionally captivating; because he eventually decides that he cannot live that way anymore and follows through his prearranged death, which literally brought me to tears because she did everything she could to convince him otherwise. He also lives Louisa a small fortune that would enable her to live well, as that was his desire for her given what she had done for him and the experiences they had shared. And that leads to the sequel “After You.”

“Just live well. Just live.”

It helped that from the movie I had a visual of the characters, and so it was easier for me to direct another movie in my head as I read through. It’s amazing how Jojo Moyes continued with the sequel so naturally. You would have ideally thought that now that Lou has been left with a small fortune, she would live life out like no ones business. But knowing that it was not in her nature, that she was the typical girl next do, almost like you and I, what she does next is what anyone would naturally do.

She buys an apartment in London with the small fortune and gets a job that she loathes in a bar at the airport. She goes through the motions there, from her colorful vintage wardrobe to an Irish barmaid costume “the porni pixie” that she is forced to wear to work by her annoying new boss. She wallows in her apartment in London until an accident forces her to be around her family and to try to move on. Her family brings out the humor in the book, from the drama between her mother and father, when her mother gets enlightened on things feminism; her grandfather’s theatrics as a result of his sickness; her sisters firmness which doesn’t give her a chance to wallow in her loneliness after the loss of Will.

She dies of guilt every day because she’s not fulfilling the promise she made to Will that she will live her life on the edge – you know taking those risks. She can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started. While at it, she’s finds out that Will had a daughter, Lily, who was just as wild and manic as he was and she has to deal with her erratic fits and her hands-off mother. She has to go through the process of introducing her to her grandparents (Taylors parents who are now divorced), which is a long shot because they never had any hint of there ever being a granddaughter.

She then joins a support group for people grieving their loved ones called the Moving on Circle. With people who share insights on their grieving process, the good and the bad over some nasty cookies, but with lots of love, laughter and support to go around.

“I like to say that although we’re called the Moving on Circle, none of us moves on without a backward look. We move on always carrying with us those we have lost. What we aim to do in our little group is ensure that carrying them is not a burden that feels impossible to bear, a weight keeping us stuck in the same place. We want their presence to feel like a gift.”

This leads her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding, the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. But in the quest for something greater than her, one that would bring her some adventure, she takes on a new assignment that hijacks her plans, and will now propel her into a different future unknown to her.

“I had a million things to say and none I knew how. I stepped forward and kissed him, like people kiss at airports, full of love and desperate longing, kisses that must imprint themselves on the recipient for the journey, the weeks, the months ahead. With that kiss, I tried to tell him the enormity of what he meant to me. I tried to show him that he was the answer to the question I hadn’t even known I had been asking. I tried to thank him for wanting me to be me, more than he wanted to make me stay. In truth I probably just told him I’d drunk two large coffees without brushing my teeth.”

Guise, the ending is so intense, something’s got to give! I don’t know if it would be too much to ask Jojo Moyes for another sequel to “After You”, maybe “Beyond You” … LOL. It’s a highly recommended read from me if these are your kind. It covers aspects of family, dealing with grief, love (losing it and fining it), starting out in life and basically, getting a life.

I am currently reading Bossypants by Tina Fey, a humorous biography, alongside See Me by Nicholas Sparks, a romance novel, which I got the other day from Nuria Bookstore. Try them out for your next book order and purchase, your won’t be disappointed.

Have an adventurous week ahead now, won’t you? I’ll try my very best to have one of those too. I can’t be telling you the same story this coming weekend.

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*