Why This Book
I enjoyed the first two books in the ‘Me Before You’ series, then I won the third one, Still Me, by Jojo Moyes, in a Goodreads Giveaway. I was quite excited and nervous, as I adored the first book but thought the second was just decent/good. I am very glad to say this third one is much closer to the first!
Approach & Style
I read an advance copy of this ~378 page paperback novel in about 5 hours during a two day period. It goes very quickly as the story is quite intriguing — the writing feels effortlessly natural. It’s broken into ~35 chapters, which makes each about ten pages long. The book is told in first person POV with the perspective focused on Louisa. A few chapters have letters, emails or news articles to help push the story forward. It’s the third in a series and well-worth the read to spend with the brilliance of the characters and the backdrop.
Plot, Characters & Setting
Louisa moves to Park Avenue in NYC to help her friend Nathan who looks after an upper class family. She’ll be a ‘friend’ or ‘assistant’ to Agnes, the younger second-wife of Mr. Gopnik who was mentioned in the second book. There are various other staff in the Gopnik household and apartment building who Louisa interacts with, as well as some new friends she makes in NYC. Lou goes home for Christmas to visit her parents and sister, as well as continues to date Sam, the paramedic, from prior books. The story is about her acclimation to a different kind of life than she had in England, as well as the process to help her figure out who she wants to be. Despite all that’s happened to her, she still has more to learn… I love that about this story! There’s romance, mystery, secrets, friendships, touristy fun, and decisions to make.
Jojo Moyes is a phenomenal storyteller. I adore her characters, settings and scenes. I may be partial as I know a lot of the places in the book since it takes place in NYC; however, even when Lou is just wandering around with no real plot, it’s brilliant writing. The setting is always described in the perfect amount of detail with just enough for my imagination to fill in the blanks.
The characters are very real and familiar. I’ve seen them before in reality and other books, but there’s something special about their dialogue and how they relate to one another in this book. I whipped so fast through Still Me, as I just couldn’t put it down…. you think ‘I’ll just spend 30 minutes before bed,’ then find yourself 200 pages in and ready for more!
Lou’s journey is a combination of the first two books. It takes the reality from the second book with the emotions from the first book, then smashes them together in a final wrapper on discovering what makes Lou ‘still me.’
I can’t say enough good things about this book… I won’t spoil the ending, but that may be the only thing that I was a little ‘eh’ on, in terms of how she ends up relationship-wise. In this book, she struggles with long-distance Sam, meets someone new, and has to figure out what’s right for her. Part of me saw a different ending, but this one still worked. Ultimately, I love Lou… she might be one of my favorite literary characters.
I will definitely pick up another Moyes book… after the three in this series, I know she’s an author I will enjoy for many years. I’m grateful to the friend who introduced me to this series. 🙂
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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I’ve knocked the 8th entry off my Book Bucket List: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. My review will be posted in the next few days, but while I’m writing it, let’s start thinking about February’s read. In its place, I’ve added Still Me (the 3rd in the ‘Me Before You’ series) by Jojo Moyes to round out the 12 options for the next vote (poll is open below).
The poll for the February 2018 read is open. Click below to vote by 1/10!
Below is the link to the on-going Book Bucket List and a background on what it’s all about. My Very Own “Book Bucket List” — Click the link to access everything since the beginning of this post series as well as see the 12 books currently on the list (you can also read a Goodreads description of each of the 12 books in the poll).
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to publish it in early 2018. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.
Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.
You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars to Jojo Moyes‘s After You, the follow-up to Me Before You, which was a very popular book made into a movie earlier this year. The “After You” sequel is good (not as good), but for a different reason. Many folks complained about the need for this second book, and with the first one being made into a movie, it may have been a required follow-up as opposed to a story that yearned to be told… either case, I did enjoy it. Let’s dive in…
The book opens about 18 months after the first one ends, which was when her patient and soul-mate, Will Traynor, committed suicide. (If you are reading this review, it’s not really a spoiler as that’s the whole point of Me Before You — how will she handle the tragedy of being with him… and if you haven’t read Book 1, stop now and go back and read it even before this review of Book 2. You can also check out my Book 1 review in the link below).
Louisa (the girl who fell for Will) has been on the outs with her family due to her role in Wil’s suicide, and she took a year off to travel and try to move forward. Of course, it never happens, and she goes back to the quiet and sheltered life she had before she met him. When she accidentally falls off her roof, it sets into motion several challenges for her to face. Some think she tried to kill herself. Some think she is rotting away her life. She goes back to a very sad job where she’s yelled at by a nasty boss all the time. She tries to get better by going to a self-help group for people affected by a loved one who died. She meets the ambulance medic who saved her after the fall. She gets a job offer to go to NYC. And she meets Lily, the secret daughter Will had that no one ever knew about. While Louisa tries to figure out her life, she learns all the lessons she needs to be able to move on… but when it all comes together in the end, and she has to make a choice on her own future, will she be able to? (And that’s for you to find out when you read the book… I can’t give a spoiler away, right?)
1. Lou is a fantastic character. She’s flawed which makes her real. She’s whiny yet she stands up for herself. She’s smart and she makes dumb decisions. She’s got potential but she lets it waste. We can all find a piece of Lou’s personality in our own, which makes reading about her and understanding her actions all the more interesting… because you can question whether you would have done the same thing or made a different decision. She’s quite relate-able… on may levels.
2. The plot is great, especially as a follow-up to Me Before You. It could have gone in many directions, e.g. a trial/lawsuit from the family or the government for her role in his death, a barrage of press harassment, the anger of her family, etc. Instead, the book gives us an 18 month break from the last one, and its inherent immediate reactions to the death, which also allows the reader time to grieve and want to see Lou move on. So… the plot had room to be widely open, but needed to be connected to the first one — a mysterious unknown daughter — while over-played in movies — isn’t so common in books… and I enjoyed watching it unfold.
3. It’s witty. Dialogue is on-target. Characters are bold but also complex. The story is consistent. It holds interest. It retains some of the sadness of the first book but brings you to a middle / average level of how you feel about the pain… and leaves you thinking “these people are real.” And that’s what I enjoy in a book. I don’t want to feel harsh and judgmental of character actions, or find myself in love with something perfect that doesn’t really exist… yes, literature is often supposed to take you out of reality and into something fantastical where you feel magical… but for me, the very nature of fiction does that — I enjoy the great sweeping arcs of magic, but when the story is simple and beautiful, it’s even better.
I don’t believe there should have been a follow-up to Me Before You, and I’m a serial-fictionist… as well as a lexiconnoisseur neologist (apparently, I make up words like serial-fictionist). The first one was so good as a stand-alone, I don’t want to compare anything to it with the same story and author being involved. Perhaps if I just picked up After You, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much without knowing what happened to Lou in Book 1. Book 2 (After You) is a good story with good writing, but there wasn’t anything special about it, hence why I have it a 3. If I hadn’t witnessed her struggle in the previous book, it wouldn’t have been as powerful in this book to watch her recovery.
So… with it getting a 3, and with me not having anything truly remarkable to say about it, I’d recommend it to folks under certain conditions:
1. If you read Me Before You, you should read After You. If you love Louisa and her family, then why wouldn’t you want to read another 350 pages about their life… it’s like having a friend who lives far away and just happens to be in your town and may never be again for years. It’s there… It’s a day’s read. It’s enjoyable. It just isn’t the same as it was the first go around. But you still want to know “how is that friend of mine different these days…” – so go see that friend.
2. If you love the author’s style, read After You. It’s a well-written book and has a few good characters you will root for.
3. If you can accept the original is the best, and know that you won’t always get the same vibe and attraction to its successors, then you probably have an open enough mind to check out what happened in her later years.
But if you are looking for an amazing follow-up with an absolute blockbuster of a story and ending to Lou’s life… you will be somewhat disappointed. After You is a slice of what happens to her in a 3 month period set nearly 2 years after the first one ends. It’s nice. It’s a good read. But you won’t walk away with the same level of emotions as you did with Me Before You.
If you’re curious to know more about this reader and writer, check out my profile on this site or you can go to my personal website at: https://thisismytruthnow.com
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4+ stars to Jojo Moyes‘s Me Before You. I saw a glimpse of the movie preview and had perused a few online reviews of the book when I added it to my “To Read” list. I had to read it before I could watch it which means moving it up quickly. It seemed like a good choice yesterday morning and soon it became my Saturday read!
Will was hit while crossing the street ending the extremely adventerous part of his life and leaving him a quadriplegic. His friends slowly disappeared and Will was stuck moving back home with his parents living a very minimalistic life where he basically sat in his chair staring thru the window all day long. He comes to an agreement with his family about his care for a 6 month period where he will try to be a little more positive but afterwards, they must accept his choices.
Louisa was content with a simple life supporting her parents and sister but suddenly lost her job and had to find something to be able to help survive. She had very little hopes and dreams mostly because she just addressed each day as it came never really focusing on her own future. She accepts a job as a caretaker for Will where she’s supposed to just try to keep him a little cheerful but fights with the decision to take on this type of role for a 6 month duration.
They of course mix like oil and water at first but in time find a way to tolerate one another. Their relationship eventually gains depth and learn they need one another to keep going forward. But Will’s ultimate plans are not what Louisa expected, and she struggles with how to accept his choices. The story takes you on a path of romance, anger, hope and despair ending in a very emotional place but opening the door for a sequel to see what happens after this experience.
For most readers, this book will take you away from your own life’s troubles giving you something much more intense in which to immerse yourself. The pacing, timing, setting, character development and imagery will capture your attention and make you realize you likely have it pretty good in your own life. While you’ll understand enough of the pain and barriers people with physical disabilities experience, you will also learn what it’s like emotionally to handle such a huge change to your lifestyle and relationships. By the end, your problems will seem far less dramatic and you may even walk away from the book feeling energized to be more positive. (And yes, you’ll spend most of the book crying and sad!)
With full caution, I may not be aware of what life is like in towns like the one in this book and thus this may not actually be a weakness… however, Louisa’s family and hometown seems a bit unrealistic. I get that she has two parents, a grandparent, a sister and a nephew living with her and times are tough financially. I get that parents sometimes tease their kids about life choices. But there’s a clear love between the family at the same time as a clear favoritism for Louisa’s sister over Louisa. Many pages are devoted to how intelligent and beautiful her sister is and why the family needs to spend more money and love on her. Louisa may act a bit plain and simple, but she’s the one supporting the family. And then when the mother reacts to Louisa’s choices at the end of the book, I was confused as to why she would be so divergent. Yet the scene where Will comes to Louisa’s birthday party were incredibly touching to a point where I really liked her family. It felt a little bit yo-yo-ish for me.
To love this book, you have to love emotion. You have to be OK with crying and getting angry. You have to be OK with accepting how other people have a right to make their own choices. You have to realize people are different. You have to understand that yes, there are people in the world like this and just because you haven’t met them or interacted with them much doesn’t mean they aren’t there. What I loved most about this book was the beauty and pain from which I am often sheltered. And when a book makes you get out of your own skin, you have to acknowledge its strengths.