The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Source: Received from publisher for honest review
Summary: "Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: it’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy. One part of your life unyokes from the other."
Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. Now, Laurel must navigate a new world in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.
My Review: The Beginning of After is a substantial piece of work for anyone who has experienced a grief stricken loss. While reading this debut, it conjured up buried feelings of my Godmother's death. Normally, I tend to shy away from conversing about her passing, since it hurts too much. However, while going through the movements with Laurel, it helped me connect with the emotions I keep hidden inside. So, thank you Jennifer for giving me the gift to come to terms with a difficult part of my past.
Now, Laurel's beginning started out extremely heartbreaking, just the thought of someone losing their whole family in a day makes me so sad. The way she handled it was in all honesty the best way at the time. The only part of the novel I found to be a little sluggish revolved around the romantic development between David and Laurel. It drove me a bit insane just because it was slow, even though that's how relationships are in reality.
I love the fact that this was a standalone, no sequel, it's quite refreshing considering most books these days are part of a series. All in all, I felt the message Jennifer was trying to portray read loud and clear. It's a great way for teens to connect with characters who might reach them with in depth pain and truthfulness. If you're a fan of contemporary, you should definitely pick this one up!
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Jennifer Castle graduated from Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist's assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that's an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. The Beginning of After is her first novel. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in New York's Hudson Valley.
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