“You don’t have to let that one thing be the thing that defines you.”
After You picks up from where Me Before You left us. Lou is trying to move on after the death of the man she loved – Will. We pick up with Lou working in an airport bar, estranged from her family since Will’s assisted suicide, and living in London. She’s trying to live the life he wanted her to, but can’t let go of the past. Following an accident and an unexpected visitor on her doorstep, she’s forced to confront the past and the feelings she has about Will’s death.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t chomping at the bit to read After You. As someone who felt incredibly emotionally involved in Will and Lou’s relationship in Me Before You, the idea of her just ‘moving on’ didn’t enormously appeal. After reading Me Before You I think I cried for a good hour at the ending and found the book incredibly cathartic – it provided closure for both the reader and the characters and just, well, left everything in a place that wasn’t necessarily good, but a place that felt right.
I waited a year before deciding to start After You. It was on my TBR pile and I was just, well, curious I suppose. It shocked me how much I actually enjoyed the book. I felt as though that time between the two had allowed me to consider other possibilities for Lou. I generally enjoyed the book, however, felt that there were too many characters, some of whom probably weren’t all entirely necessary… The same characters that irritated me in Me Before You continued to irritate me in After You (Treena, in particular). I did really enjoy the new character of Sam and the complexities associated with starting a relationship with someone who is grieving.
Positives? If you loved Lou in Me Before You, by the end of After You, you’ll see her in a brand new light. The new character of Sam is definitely a dreamboat. The topic of grief and moving on is covered wholly and sensitively, without being dismissive of anything established in Me Before You
Negatives? Unnecessary characters, I feel quite a few could be omitted as they don’t add much to the core story and act as filler more than anything.