The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle(Goodreads profile)
Source: Net Galley
Release Date: September 6, 2011
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.
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.
Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.The Beginning of After is a moving tale of a girl whose life is changed forever when tragedy strikes her world.
The thing I appreciate most about this novel is that the process of Laurel dealing with her grief felt very, very realistic to me. What would you do if a police officer knocked on your door to tell you that your family had died in a horrible car accident? Do you know? Because I have no idea. Would I cry or just stare blankly at the walls or be angry or try to go on like normal? No idea. None. For the most part, Laurel doesn't really know either, even after the event has taken place. She's trying to take control of her life but everything is spinning out of control, even if it appears to be fine. There are ups and there are downs, but I just love that it all made sense.
I really liked Laurel's character as well. I could relate to her a lot (at least from before the accident). She studies hard, is close with her family, and mostly keeps to herself. It was positively chilling to see how her life is affected after the accident. My heart broke for her and the pain she went through. However, as sad as I was that her family had died, it was mostly because I could see how it destroyed Laurel and her grandmother. We don't get to know much about her family and who they were (although I could connect with her dad most of all), but I think it worked for this particular story.
There is a romantic aspect of this book but it doesn't take centre-stage and instead builds slowly and sweetly. As stated in the summary, there is definitely a connection between David and Laurel and I loved observing as it progressed at a natural pace.
Elegantly written, The Beginning of After is a book that I recommend to readers looking for an emotional journey. Well done!
Cover Comments: Oh, it is so pretty. I also imagine that it's one of those covers that looks even better in person. The colours are gorgeous and those detailed swirls are awesome. Pretty is definitely what I think of when I see this cover!