Do not read if you have not yet read Me Before You!
Earlier this year I read Me Before You, the prequel to this book, about our main character, Louisa Clark, who becomes the caregiver for a quadriplegic man, Will Traynor, and their tragic love story. I enjoyed that story. Tears were shed, frustrations abounded, twists appeared to add a bit of hope to an otherwise depressingly predictable ending... And now comes After You, a continuation of Lou's story, one year later.
The book starts off dramatically enough, with Lou being terribly depressed after the events of the last year, stuck in a horrible dead-end job, and then she falls off the roof of her apartment building. Of course, one's immediate reaction would be to wonder if Lou will also end up a quadriplegic, like Will, and history will repeat itself. Amazingly, she survives the fall with minimal injuries. After spending some weeks/months back at home with her family while she recovers, she goes back to her London flat, promising her father that she will attend grief counseling.
The story at that point slows down and tends to drag on a bit. A new character comes into the picture, a 16 year old girl called Lily Houghton-Miller, who claims to be Will's estranged daughter. Louisa takes it upon herself to take the girl in, helping her meet & be accepted by her new family, etc. Lily brings a lot of stress and upset to Louisa's life, to the point where Louisa can take no more, which leads to more drama and a somewhat intense search.
There is, of course, a new love interest for Louisa, and near the end of the book, trauma strikes again, adding more action & intensity, and did cause some tears to be shed.
The last few chapters I personally found to be a bit choppy and confusing. Honestly, that was probably the point, but it felt a bit unnatural compared to the rest of the story.
The book could most certainly be read as a stand-alone novel. There is enough of the previous book mentioned to know what has happened and not necessarily need to have read it first. I enjoyed how certain issues were resolved in this book that were left "hanging" in Me Before You, such as Lou's relationship with her family.
As seems to be Jojo Moyes writing style, there were several small twists thrown in, which were just enough to make you think that the somewhat predictable ending will be different than you thought... but turns out to be exactly what you thought. However, she always manages to make you feel hopeful and satisfied in the end.
I enjoyed this book a lot, possibly more than the first (not quite so sad), and would definitely recommend it.