Spoiler Warning! This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series.
Me Before You was a 2013 phenomenon that left me gutted and in need of copious amounts of chocolate and tissues. Hence, I began the sequel After You with trepidation. I’m pleased to say that, while it doesn’t approach the brilliance of the original book, After You is still a worthy sequel which provided a fair amount of closure and healing for me.
When readers last saw Louisa Clark, she was devastated at the loss of Will Traynor for whom she had been a paid companion/caregiver. As the story opens, Louisa is once again cast adrift after she returns home from her sojourn in France. She knows Will wanted her to see the world and part of her wants to have a grand adventure, yet another part wishes to remain in London, hiding in her lonely flat.
A series of mishaps brings her into contact with cute paramedic Sam, who interests her even as she clings to Will’s memory. Knowing she needs help to get past the mental roadblocks she has erected, she joins a grief therapy group. Louisa’s life is catapulted further into turmoil when a teenage girl shows up at her apartment claiming to be Will’s daughter. It will take a lot of determination and resourcefulness for Louisa to pull herself together and move forward into the life she deserves.
I found Louisa relatable in the previous book and even more so here. Her vulnerability, her indecision, and the fact that she is struggling to get her footing amidst the upheaval of her life combine to make her a sympathetic character. She does eventually find her way and stops being someone to whom things happen and transforms into someone making things happen for herself. She stumbles along the way, but always picks herself back up, dusts herself off, and carries on.
With the help of her grief counseling group, Louisa is able to come to terms with her loss. Her journey through a myriad of sometimes conflicting emotions is both believable and poignant. She goes from being unwilling to tell the group Will’s name (she doesn’t want to be known as the girl whose companion chose euthanasia) to finally letting him go in a touching ceremony for the members of her group. The interactions between the members of the group are by turns hilarious and heartbreaking and feel totally authentic.
Even though I didn’t love this book as much as Me Before You, it’s still a strong, thought-provoking book populated with interesting characters. While there is not an HEA for Louisa here, the book concludes with a positive, uplifting finale with a HFN. Somehow, the reader knows Louisa will be just fine.