Last year I read a book about assisted suicide, a topic which I then discussed in a blog posted on this website. Me Before You became an important story for the world, as it brought up a series of questions surrounding the topic. I, personally, believe in #DignityInDying and have explained my support for the campaign in a previous blog post.
This may have been why I enjoyed reading the book and made sure to watch the film adaptation when it hit cinemas, it was so much more than just a romance novel. The film made a notable effort to translate the book into a motion picture, and although was was a ‘tear-jerker’, it didn’t quite reach the full emotion and impact that the book does.
The film was also met with outrage from disabled rights groups as they believed it depicted disability as something that people cannot live with, and were angered at their interpretation that it encouraged suicide. For many, and for the author, it was merely a platform which introduced the discussion of assisted suicide into society. It showed that for some, perhaps a small disabled minority, this was an option they would like to have.
Me Before You finished with Will, the main character with Quadriplegia, choosing to end his life in Dignitas and his carer going on to live her life the way he would have wanted her too. This was a satisfying ending, which is why I didn’t feel there was a need for a sequel, but alas, appeared After You – a story which would follow carer Louisa Clark two years after Will’s death. I embarked upon reading it out of curiosity, rather than eagerness but I was pleasantly surprised.
While the beginning was dwindling, without any clear intention of a storyline, the introduction of new characters is what gets the story rolling. It initially seemed like it was going to be a weak sequel about moving on; following Louisa as she attempts to fall in love again. That doesn’t sound like a gripping novel, I’ll give you that. But welcome Sam, an interesting, heroic character who I found myself looking forward to reading about in each chapter. Then add Lily, the stranger on the doorstep, the mysterious character who promised to be the centre of the story in the book description. She brings the real meaning to the book and provides a reason for bring previous characters back to the story. We get to find out where Will’s family and Nathan, the medical helper, are, two years after his death and how Louisa may fit into their lives again, while also finding something to fulfil her own.
From feminism to blackmail, this novel ends up covering all sorts of topics. While I did have initial hesitation, After You doesn’t end up being a feeble attempt at a follow up of a bestseller. It’s shocking one minute and laugh out loud funny the next. It’s actually worth a buy.
Grading it, I’ll give it a 4 star review.