Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Still Me

Title:  Still Me
Author:  Jojo Moyes
Publication Information:  Pamela Dorman Books. 2018. 400 pages.
ISBN:  0399562451 / 978-0399562457

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It was the mustache that reminded me I was no longer in England:  a solid, gray millipede firmly obscuring the man's upper; a Village People mustache, a cowboy mustache, the miniature head of a broom that meant business."

Favorite Quote:  "You and I. We are both immigrants. We both know it is hard to find your place in this world. You want to make your life better, work hard in country that is not your own - you make new life, new friends, find new love. You get to become new person! But is never a simple thing, never without cost."

Still me is the third in what is now a series about Louisa Clark. Me Before You was the first sensation. Then came After You. Still Me brings Louisa Clark across the pond to New York. This is one series that really should be read in order. Each book is a continuation of the Louisa's story from the previous book. The arc of the story projects, and the characters evolve from one book to the next. Without the background of the first two books, this one will definitely be lacking.

For the sake of background, here goes a quick synopsis. In Me Before You, Louisa meets the love of her life who teaches her how to grasp life. Unfortunately, he dies. In After You, Louisa tries to deal with her grief and follow that lesson; a new life emerges. In this book, that same challenge to "live your life" brings Louisa to New York City, seeking new adventures. In particular, it brings her to a posh condo in the Lavery, which "was a scaled-down imitation of the famous Dakota building." (I love when I find random connections between the books I read!)

The first book deals with the serious issue of an individual's right to die. The second book deals with grief. This book shifts focus to a woman's journey of self-discovery and her ability to find her own voice. All three books weave the stories with compassion and humor.

This book proceeds in a more predictable fashion than the other two. As a reader, I see things - actions and decisions by other characters - coming that Louisa does not. She does seem rather innocent of the machinations going on around her. Naivete? Stupidity? Innocence? At this point, because I am engaged in Louisa's story, it doesn't really matter. I go with a sweet innocence because it makes for a sweet, feel good story.

Therein in lies the success of these books for me. They all work because the writing draws these characters and makes them come to life and makes them "real." I vest in their stories and laugh and cry along with them.

Mind you, this holds true even of the side characters and plot lines. This book wins me over because it tries to capture some of the diversity that is the heartbeat of New York City. It further captures me because one of the side stories is about book and the importance of libraries! "Books are what teach you about life. Books teach you empathy. But you can't buy books if you barely got enough to make rent. So that library is a vital resource! You shut a library, Louisa, you don't just shut down a building, you shut down hope." In the middle of Louisa's individual story, the book manages to successfully incorporate bigger societal statements.

Finally, without a spoiler, I will say I loved the ending. It is sweet and romantic, but more important, it is about a woman finding her strength and standing on her own. "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 a like a butterfly in a case. The key was to know that you could always somehow find a way to reinvent yourself again."

The only question that remains mirrors my thought at the end of the previous book. Is another chapter in the life of Louisa Clark yet to come?

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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