March 16, 2018

The "Me" Lou Needed to Be

 Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Release Date: January 29, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House; Pamela Dorman
Pages: 390 pages
Source & Format:
Series: Me Before You #3
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life. 

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Thoughts on Still Me
I read Me Before You not long after it was released — one of the first books that I requested and read for review! It became an all-time favorite for me, and I've always loved that I knew about the book before it became a bestseller. Despite its sadness, I loved that the ending allowed me to imagine all good things for Louisa Clark.

When After You came out, I was skeptical. I didn't think the first book needed a sequel, but I was also convinced that Moyes had good reason for continuing Lou's journey. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that way when I finished it. I found myself describing the book as boring, contrived, and depressing — which shocked me! Afterward, I imagined that Louisa Clark's story ended with Me Before You and that the events of the second book were just a bad dream.

When the third book was announced,  I honestly thought that Moyes was just milking the characters for money at that point. I knew exactly what I was going to do with Still Me: pretend it didn't exist. And then... While we were abroad, Kelly was reading it. And y'all, watching her cry happy tears in Waterstones and listening to her persuasive argument in favor of it made me curious enough to order a copy as soon as I got home. No one is more surprised than me about what I’m about to say next: I LOVED IT!

Still Me was an emotional end to Lou’s story, and it may even change my mind on the second book. After You will never be a favorite for me, but I think I can appreciate it more now that it exists within this three-book arc. While I still think that the story could have ended with the first book, I'm glad that the third book exists to provide closure for these characters.

In Me Before You, Will challenges Lou to make the most of her life because you only get one. And I think what made After You such a difficult read was seeing that not much had changed in Lou's life. It was realistic -- she was, after all, grieving. And major life change doesn't happen overnight! But man, it was rough to see her struggling.

What I immediately enjoyed about Still Me was the change in tone! Lou has moved to New York for a new job, and her earnest optimism is back in full force. It was a breath of fresh air! Throughout the course of the book, you get to watch her navigate a challenging workplace, settle in to an entirely new place and embrace a long-distance relationship with Ambulance Sam. So, her life isn't without its detours and dead-ends. But her confidence in herself and the courage she shows by taking chances made it such a delight to read!

There's such a great story of personal growth in these pages, and I can now see how the second book needed to exist to propel Louisa to this place in her life. Do I wish she could have jumped right over the rough patch in the middle? Absolutely. But I think I can appreciate that season more now that I've read the third book! It brought everything full circle, redeemed some of my least favorite aspects of After You and was the perfect emotional resolution.

I didn't enjoy everything about this story (a few aspects were just a bit too reminiscent to Me Before You). but I truly loved it overall. I haven't talked very much about what actually happens in the book because I think that's best left for you to discover. But I'm happy to say that Louisa Clark is back and better than ever! I look forward to re-reading all three books in the future now that I know that the ending delivers the heartfelt, hopeful future that Lou deserved.

So Quotable
“I had a choice. I was Louisa Clark from New York or Louisa Clark from Stortfold. Or there might be a whole other Louisa I hadn’t yet met. The key was making sure that anyone you allowed to walk beside you didn’t get to decide which you were, and pin you down like a butterfly in a case. The key was to know that you could always somehow find a way to reinvent yourself again.”

1 comment:

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