What Happens After Happily-Ever-After?

January 11 2017
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I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fall under the highly infectious spell of the onerous and brutally sarcastic Will Traynor. From his peculiar choice of greeting when meeting Louisa Clark to his scowls at anything remotely enjoyable she suggested—I couldn’t help it, I fell madly in love with the guy. And honestly, I think that’s the feeling that Jojo Moyes’s ME BEFORE YOU was meant to evoke. But after a love like Will, what next?

Spoilers ahead, proceed with caution. 

ME BEFORE YOU is not an “expect the unexpected” kind of read. The moment you meet Will Traynor—once a Master of the Universe, now a quadriplegic bound to a wheelchair—and his new aide, Louisa Clark—an aimless twentysomething hiding from her potential in her parents’ claustrophobic home—you know the unlikely pair will fall in love. And even I knew that Lou’s efforts to reignite Will’s love of life in 6 months would not change his mind about going to Dignitas, where he would eventually pass away by assisted suicide.

Though it deals with tough issues, ME BEFORE YOU does everything the “girl-meets-boy” story is meant to: brings together two unlikely souls, follows them on life-changing adventures which turn romantic (because of course), and then rips your heart out. But on the very last page, an endearing posthumous letter from Will to Lou gives hope of an all-right tomorrow.

I’m sorry to say, this hope is short-lived in Moyes’s follow up novel, AFTER YOU. When I dove in, I was hoping to find a plot twist: Will never died; instead they secretly froze him until technological and medical advances would award him the life he once had. However, romanticizing this very real circumstance is what garnered backlash for the movie adaptation of ME BEFORE YOU. AFTER YOU quickly establishes itself as a reality check, instead of a happily-ever-after fantasy. Will’s death is no longer the neatly packaged denouement to a classic romance trope, and the messiness of grief takes ahold of Lou’s life.

She’s living on the last dollars that Will left her to kickstart a new adventure. Though she’s made progress by moving into her own flat in London, her ambitions of re-enrolling in school have significantly stalled. One night, a freak accident forces her to re-examine her grief and whether she has truly forgiven Will for ending his life despite their love.

During a long recovery from the accident, not only does Lou join a bereavement support group and open herself up to love again, she also meets someone from Will’s past whose desire to learn more about him reopens emotional wounds in Lou that hadn’t healed properly. Only this perspective allows Lou to finally process her six-month relationship with Will.

ME BEFORE YOU is a satisfying read with a bittersweet, tear-jerking finish, but you’d be cheating yourself if you missed the sobering follow-up, AFTER YOU, about living boldly when life knocks you down and how the strength to do so is not so easily attained.

 

Me Before You
JoJo Moyes

Will Traynor is an attractive but brooding young man grieving the life he lived before the terrible accident that left him paralyzed. Louisa Clark is the quirky and charming young woman that Will’s parents hire to cheer him up and remind him that life is worth living. You will fall as hard and deeply in love with Will as Louisa does.

Read the review of ME BEFORE YOU and AFTER YOU.

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After You
Jojo Moyes

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fall under the highly infectious spell of the onerous and brutally sarcastic Will Traynor. From his peculiar choice of greeting when meeting Louisa Clark to his scowls at anything remotely enjoyable she suggested—I couldn’t help it, I fell madly in love with the guy. And honestly, I think that’s the feeling Jojo Moyes’s ME BEFORE YOU was meant to evoke. But after a love like Will, what next?

Read Tolani Osan’s review here.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

6 Immersive Memoirs with a Strong Sense of Place

By Anum Shafqat | September 24, 2021

8 Mystery Novels for Louise Penny Fans to Cozy Up with This Fall

By Sarah Walsh | September 23, 2021

Staff Picks: The 10 Best Books We’ve Read This Year (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 22, 2021

Stephen King’s Top Books, According to Stephen King

By Aimee Boyer | September 21, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

By Holly Claytor | September 20, 2021

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

By Kelly Dasta | September 17, 2021

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