Sunday, 29 April 2018

Book Review: Still Me

The third and final instalment in a series that I have loved. Both Me Before You and After You easily make it onto a list of my favourite books, although for very different reasons. Louisa Clark is an incredibly lovable character as she’s so imperfect, yet always manages to stay true to herself, with her wacky outfits and clumsy ways. There’s a part of me that is so, so sad that this is the last time I’ll read about her with fresh eyes. The first thing that made me love the beginning of the book, where she embarks on a new life, a new start in New York of all places, was that she references her commitment to Will by saying yes to new opportunities. The series has always been haunted by Will’s decision to end his life, so it was a nice ode to him that Lou has kept her word, living her own life to the fullest. That being said, it’s hardly a surprise that Lou struggles to adjust to life in New York as the family that she works for is so incredibly rich that to go anywhere includes a limo or taxi ride - a very different world to what a down to earth suburban girl is accustomed to. It’s important to remember that although she was living in London, the city is very different to New York; for a start, those in the USA tend to take everyday fitness incredibly seriously, something that Lou definitely struggles with.

One of things that I absolutely love about Lou is her bravery and commitment to everything that she does; even though she struggles to keep up with New York life and manage her long distance relationship, in a world of secrets and lies. She loves Sam, but she also begins to love her new life, her job and all of the experiences she is having. She’s a modest person, believing that by being brave she’s doing exactly what Will would’ve wanted her to do, but in reality, yes he would be proud of her, but the experiences she’s having are a result of her own doing. She is shaping her world for herself, by herself. As much as she’s taking more chances and saying yes to more things, she’s still the same clumsy girl and that is what makes her so lovable and definitely relatable. Her personality literally shines through the page, she’s the kind of character that manages to feel like a friend; each book that I’ve read about her has been different in terms of place, relationships and even country yet she never changes, always staying true to herself. There’s so much to enjoy reading about as her adventures are always both believable and hilarious as well as sad, however I prefer seeing her plough through life without a care in the world, with her quirky fashion sense and understanding of what she does and doesn’t like. As much as it was lovely to see her thrive in New York, strike up a good relationship with her employer, get physically fit and embrace her new way of life, I actually love her best when she’s dealing with difficult situations and finding her own two feet on her own. Louisa is so strong, yet lacks so much self confidence and that it what makes her stories so lovely to read; she’s so normal yet so beautifully quirky!

I loved how this book started at one point, then developed further, with Louisa starting off in one job then slowly changing various elements of her life, from her relationship, to her friendships and even her confidence begins to change. Her friendship with Margot is a beautiful one; it showcases how age is simply a number and how an older woman can be the best influence on a young, broken woman. It was a pleasure to see them help each even though they’re from entirely different backgrounds, countries and ages there is always some common ground, something that places people together for a reason. Both of the ladies love fashion, which added another level to their friendship. Age is just a number may be a cliché, but in the case of Lou and Margot it definitely is true; like only true friends can, they argue, they sulk but ultimately they’re always honest with one another and it was great to see an older female character shown as good influence. Margot was just as influential for Lou as Will was, way back in Me Before You. She injected a dose of reality, a reminder that life can be hard but you can always find a kind, loving and supportive person wherever life happens to lead you. Relationships are at the heart of this series and something that Jojo Moyes depicts incredibly well; whether it is platonic or romantic, there is a healthy dose of realism relayed through description and conversation in this book - just as in reality, relationships don’t always work and life isn’t always easy. Louisa Clark is an easy character to love because her personality just shines through pages and words to the extent that she literally feels like reading about an old friend rather than simply a character. Even reading about her family felt familiar, how they love each other whilst constantly bickering. 

Overall I’m torn about this book; on one hand, I loved it. It felt like the perfect ending to Louisa’s adventures, but ambiguous enough that her life would be easily revisited, which is also exciting. However, the question on my lips even as I bought this book was ‘is it necessary?’ due to After You being so different from Me Before You and so I expected (rightly) that Still Me would be difficult once again. Although as a reader, I didn’t feel like I needed to find out what has happened to Louisa and some of the other characters, but at the same time I wasn’t disappointed as this novel did live up to my expectations. As I’ve already mentioned, I love this series because it feels real; there’s nothing extraordinary about Lou, yet she has a beautifully written character that makes you wish she was your friend. She’s clumsy, funny and never seems to know what to do, yet she manages to work her way through life doing the things that she loves, surrounded by the people that she loves. Each book in this series has been different; although the characters are familiar, the situations are always different and it’s also nice to see realistically how life continues regardless of tragic or difficult events. However, personally I liked that each book felt like a standalone novel, rather than simply the same storyline. One of reasons why I’ve loved this series so much is how realistic it reads; Lou genuinely feels like an old friend at this point. This book was a solid 4 stars; it wasn’t my favourite of the series but regardless I devoured it and so I’d recommend it if like me, you’ve fully committed to the series and it’s characters. It was a pleasure, as always.

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