Monday, July 25, 2011

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Summary Provided by Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old 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. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality 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.

Fans of emotionally true and heartfelt stories, such as Sarah Dessen's THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER and IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, will fall in love with Jennifer Castle’s incandescent debut novel...a heart wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.

Before, Laurel had a family. She had a mom and dad who she loved and a little brother that annoyed her. She had friends and a normal life. After, Laurel was alone. In one disastrous night, Laurel lost her family and David, her childhood friend and neighbor, lost his mother. The driver, David’s father is in coma that he might never wake from and everyone blames him for the accident. Now, Laurel has to learn to live without her family and has to learn to heal.

I was hesitant about reading The Beginning of After because I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy a book that is about sadness and loss, but I am glad that I gave it a shot. The Beginning of After is about healing and becoming whole again after your entire life crumbles in a matter of seconds.

Laurel’s story didn’t sadden me as much as David’s did. David never had time for his family and was basically a pain in the ass to his parents. His dad was always a jerk to him, and he took that anger out by smoking, drinking and giving his parents attitude. Now his mom is dead and his dad might never wake up. Where Laurel had her grandmother, David was truly alone. He dropped out of school and left his childhood home, not really having any other place to go. He and Laurel bonded over their mutual tragedies, but I was hoping for a little more between the two.

My main issue with The Beginning of After was the characters. I should have had more sympathy for Laurel, but I didn’t. It almost felt like the feelings of Laurel and David were just glossed over. That isn’t to say that I thought the writing was bad, because it wasn’t. I think I was just expecting a little more from them.

I thought the ending was beautiful. It shows that you can move on from a tragedy, even if you think you can’t. Even if you don’t think you are strong enough, you are.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Beginning of After. It wasn’t as dark or depressing as I thought it was going to be, and I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. I look forward to reading more books from the very talented Jennifer Castle!

I just want to also point out that I think the cover is gorgeous! I love it, and it is what first drew me to the book!  

The Beginning of After is set to be released September 6, 2011 from HarperTeen. 


  1. Sounds like a great addition for the books on death & bereavement in the school library.
    Thanks for the review :D

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it :D I agree with you it's never too depressing as it's always tinged with hope. I also liked it :D Great review :D

  3. Thanks for the review-- it sounds like something I should pick up. good to hear it focuses on healing and has a good ending.

  4. I've been so nervous to read this one. It sounds so good but so sad as well. I'm glad to hear that it focuses a lot on healing though, so I think I need to read it soon.
    Thanks for the review :)


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