Still Me – Jojo Moyes

5 starsImage result for still me

The third book in the Jojo Moyes trilogy did not disappoint. I was so excited when I heard there was a third book following Me Before You and After You , but to be honest I had a pretty difficult time remembering the details from the first two books. It’s been awhile since reading them (After You published in 2015 and Me Before You in 2016) so I struggled in the beginning to slowly remember the character and details. I will say, Moyes did a great job of subtly sneaking in reminders and hints to details from the past two books that were nice refreshers. I would definitely recommend reading the first two before reading this one!

**Just a fair warning, there are SLIGHT spoilers in this review. But really, don’t even read this until you’ve read the first two books 🙂 **

 

“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.” – Jojo Moyes, Still Me

Like the first two books, this was an easy read and I because I couldn’t put it down, I finished it in 4 days. Louisa Clark has moved from England to New York City to start a job as a personal assistant to one of NYC’s richest couples. Leaving behind her family and her stud of a boyfriend, Ambulance Sam, Louisa felt this move was a sign from Will; to step outside of her comfort zone and find herself. Grieving Will’s death still hits Louisa hard, but she knows she must find a way to move on while figuring out who Louisa Clark is at the same time.

Louisa moved to NYC to become Agnes Gopnik’s personal assistant (yet the two were the same age) while living in their mansion of an apartment overlooking Central Park. Nathan – Will’s former physical therapist – works for Leonard Gopnik, Agnes’ husband and referred Louisa for the job. Agnes is quite a bit younger than Leonard and is highly disliked in the NYC socialite circle. Louisa assists Agnes in every day tasks like dress fittings, hair appointments, jobs with her trainer, balls and charity events for NYC’s most elite, and so on. It is at a charity ball that Louisa meets Joshua Ryan whom makes her lose her breath. Not because of his confident presence and good looks, but because he is the spitting image of Will. It’s almost as if she is looking at the Will before she knew him, the Will who wasn’t paralyzed and waltzed around NYC freely. Josh expresses his interest in Louisa several times, but she is loyal to Sam and would never do a thing to jeopardize that.

Ambulance Sam is not handling the long distance relationship well; he misses Louisa, misses the physical connection, and now has a new and attractive ambulance partner (Katie) who is dying to call him hers. Not normally the jealous type, both Sam and Louisa are struggling to maintain their relationship with so many outside temptations waiting to pounce.

Agnes befriends Louisa and shares with her very intimate details from her past. Agnes immigrated from Poland and worked as a masseuse to some of NYC’s richest (and oldest) men. When Leonard was a client of hers, he was still happily married to his wife. Agnes and Leonard fell quickly for each other and soon after, he left his wife to marry Agnes. As you can imagine, this was (and still is) the talk of the entire city considering she isn’t much older than Leonard’s only daughter. Agnes despises going to the weekly, sometimes nightly, charity balls because she finds herself in the same room as Leonard’s ex-wife and the rest of the NYC socialite cult women. But because Leonard is one of the top donors, she must make the appearance to prove everything is perfect. The stress to maintain this high profile lifestyle weighs on Anges and Louisa often takes the wrath of her mood swings; crying, screaming, violently playing the piano, not eating, etc.

Louisa flies home to England for a much needed 10 day break for Christmas and decides to surprise Sam. With Christmas gifts and a Santa hat in tow, Louisa stops her dead in her tracks at what she sees: Katie and Sam cooking dinner and touching intimately. Louisa was crushed, heart broken and angry. With Louisa and Sam’s relationship ending and having to fly back to NYC after the holiday, Louisa felt even more home sick and broken than before. She caved and took Josh up on his persistent offer for coffee, which turn into drinks, which turned into a full blown relationship. Louisa couldn’t decipher: was she attracted to Josh because he was confident, successful and would promise her  the NYC life she imagined or was it because he was identical to Will and being with Josh, in NYC, somehow made her feel closer to him?

Louisa tries to carry on her “normal” life – the hustle of NYC, the new romance with Josh, Agnes’ mood swings but her mind always comes back to Sam. What’s he doing? Is he with Katie? Does he think of Louisa too? She feels as if she’s in two places at once, half of her heart in London and the other half in NYC. She finds herself constantly questioning if she’s where she should be; just because Will told her to find herself in NYC doesn’t mean it was the right decision. Just as Louisa starts “fitting in”, her socialite life comes to a screeching hault when Mr Gopnik accuses her of withdrawing $10,000 in cash from their bank account. Louisa, withdrawing the cash at the request of her boss (Agnes), could see very clearly where she and Agnes stood. Agnes let Louisa take the blame ultimately resulting in the termination of her job with the Gopnik’s.

Homeless in NYC with only Josh and Nathan to turn to and fearful to tell her family or Sam the news, she finds comfort and solace in an unforeseen bond with the Gopnik’s elderly neighbor and her tiny Pug. It is this bond plus the stress of trying to morph into the person everyone needs her to be that she is faced with the question: Who is Louisa Clark?

Still Me takes us on a whirlwind journey of exploring what it means to be yourself in a world full of pressure to change and people who are so quick to judge. Sometimes life takes us to places that pull our hearts in two different directions, but how do we still stay true to ourselves? How do we say, it’s Still Me?

 

 

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