Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jojo Moyes - After You

Lou Clark has lots of questions.
Like how it is she's ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.
Or why the flat she's owned for a year still doesn't feel like home.
Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.
And will she ever get over the love of her life.
What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.
Then, one night, it does.
But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for - or just more questions?
Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.
Open it and she risks everything.
But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she's going to keep it, she has to invite them in . . .

Comment: As many other readers, I've had quite an experience reading Me Before You, a successful novel by this author and probably what gave her more recognition. The theme was hard, the story richly developed but with many sad layers and readers liked it.
Considering the way it ends, it was no surprise to know readers dreamed about what would happen next to one character and although I can't really say, this story was probably the result of a lot pressure because the other book was well sold. However, now that I read it, I must say I agree with those readers who have the opinion this book was not necessary.

In this sequel, Lou is found working in a bar at the airport and after a long time, she still hasn't moved on completely. Her life is pretty much a depressing one, she still hears the whispers of people who know what she was a part of and she still mourns. 
Everything changes the day Will's daughter Lily shows up at her door and somehow invades her life. Lou can't help but feel protective of Lily, even if she - and Will - have never heard of her existence. But nothing is simple and Lou isn't certain she feels ready to take on such a responsibility even if lily's mother claims her daughter isn't trustworthy. 
Lou also tries to move by joining a group where people discuss their mourning and their feelings and that's how she also comes to know Sam, the uncle of a teenager there. With so much to think about, can Lou really be ready to deal with so many new things?

To be honest, the best element of this novel has to be the mourning process. It's not the same for everyone and in this case, especially after a strong and heavily emotional first story, this sequel had to mention certain issues. 
I liked some passages where Lou talks about or even thinks about it. I think my favorite passage is when she is talking on the phone with Nathan, who was also in the first book, and she asks him if this whole situation is out of proportion in her head, if she only imagined her feelings were that real. This did touch me because it felt very realistic, very well thought and something anyone suffering would think about, only to make it easy to go another day.

However, apart from some passages, some original situations, most of the book is a collection of unnecessary things and annoying ones.
I can understand the need for closure that readers (and even the publisher's coffers) needed to get over the intensity of the first book but...I don't think it was necessary, no. In fact, this story almost felt like the characters weren't the same and I don't think the change was positive. It just would be highly unlikely that this would delivery the same impact as the other and, frankly, that wouldn't be something I'd personally like. The other story was perfect on its own.

I suppose the biggest issue here was how the author chose to keep up with Lou and Will's storyline by bringing up a daughter he didn't know he had. Lily wasn't very appealing to read about even if one can understand her dilemmas. I just think Lily didn't have to be as needy nor as rebellious. I see how the plot moved along in a certain way because of this but I didn't like Lily and that made reading this a little annoying for me. Plus Lou is a great character but she does take on things not her responsibility and the plot felt rather over the top.

I still liked Lou for the most part. She isn't the same as she was in the first book, it's impossible not to compare, and one can understand: who doesn't change if in mourning? I just think the situations she saw herself in were very unbalanced, from her series of doubts on accepting a job, to her dealings with Lily, to how she starts a new relationship... all this is meant to show her face things but I wasn't a fan of her throughout this process even if empathizing with her feelings.
The story ends on a new adventure, but not before Lou faces a very complicated situation with boyfriend Sam (it felt like just a way to increase drama) and a goodbye party to her mourning group which was cute but too sugary to fit the overall story.

I'm not certain about reading the third book... I do feel curious - that's why I also got this one - but I fear I'll loose my likeness for this and I don't want to let go of the emotional high Me Before You left...although i don't think I can read that one again in the near future.
Grade: 6/10

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