Still Me by Jojo Moyes
Been awhile since I updated on my books to read this year. Since I wrote about The Art of Racing in the Rain, I have started several books and finished one. None of these books were on my original list because, as I stated when I made the list, I have a book buying problem in that I buy books and then it takes me awhile to read them. This of course leads to a whole list of books that I own but have not yet read. I started to read Anna Faris’ Unqualified and Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom, but it is Jojo Moyes’ Still Me that I have completed.
Still Me is the third book in a series by Moyes that began with Me Before You, the novel behind the movie starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. All three books follow Louisa Clark, a young woman from a working class English family whose world is thrown open and upside down by a young quadriplegic man whose caretaker she becomes. Not to spoil the first book, but the second two follow Louisa as she deals with the loss of Will and ultimately finds herself.
Still Me specifically follows Louisa to New York City where she is taking a job as a personal assistant in a wealthy family. She leaves new boyfriend Sam behind in England and they struggle with the long distance relationship as Louisa struggles to find her role as an assistant surrounded by affluence.
The book’s theme revolves around finding a place in the world and being caught between worlds as both Louisa and her employer’s wife, Agnes, find themselves struggling between two worlds, two lives, and two identities. Agnes, an immigrant who worked as a masseuse before meeting and falling in love with her husband, struggles to fit in at the many charity benefits and events she must attend with her husband, whose ex-wife is often in attendance as well. She also harbors a secret that leads to mood swings and depression.
Louisa’s friendship with Ashok, her employers’ building door man, and his wife Meena, opens her eyes to the other side of New York, away from the wealthy bubble she had been exposed to. She helps them with their protest to save a library in Washington Heights that serves the diverse community. This story line again explores the concept of being caught between two worlds as both Louisa and Ashok work for the wealthy but reside in a different world.
Louisa misses Sam and her family, but finds herself growing and blossoming in the Big Apple. When Agnes’ secret finally catches up to her it is Louisa who initially must take the fall and she loses her job and thus housing and must quickly make new arrangements; however, it is this seemingly bad break that leads to Louisa finding her real passion.
Louisa’s family back home also work through transitions and changes and finding new roles after loss.
I’m being somewhat vague as not to spoil the book, which was a wonderfully fun read. Louisa Clark’s character is complex and multi-dimensional. I would recommend the entire series of books, with each taking on difficult subjects from assisted suicide to dealing with grief and depression, to estranged families, coming out, class differences, immigration, and more, but doing it with ease and grace, without feeling forced.