08 September 2011

Review: The Beginning of After By: Jennifer Castle

Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publisher: HarperTeen, 432 pages (September 6th 2011)
From: the Publisher & Amazon Vine, Thank You!

Synopsis: 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.

Review: 4 Stars - Jennifer Castles debut novel – The Beginning of After is the emotional journey following a teen girls life a year following a tragic event that leaves her trying to struggle through the before to find the after. Castle’s writing was emotional and powerful, I was invested from beginning to end.
Laurel has a normal family, until one day, one second that changes everything. In the blink of an eye it’s all taken away. Sadly, the tragic event that happened that fateful night affects more than just Laurel, it also affects the neighbor who was behind the wheel and his family.
With questions no one has answers to and emotions running through the seven stages of grief, I felt for Laurel and her grandmother. Her emotions were easy to understand and while she struggled internally she had a certain strength to her as well. Laurel just wanted to find a way to… well, be again. To know who she was after and learning that what she was going through was okay. I think she felt more alone than anything, which is understandable and that she didn’t want people to see that she was breaking apart little by little.
And then we have David whose father is responsible. David is broken and also doesn’t know how to make it through. He has issues that Laurel can understand and then a few things she can’t, such as the fact that it was his father that was behind the wheel that night. David handles his grief very differently than Laurel but the two eventually find some common ground and strength in each other to make it through.
My heart broke time and time again while reading this book for both characters. Their interaction was brief, but in those small bits of time they each gained something from the other. They were able to relate to each other and what they were going through. While David left to try to find a way to heal, Laurel stayed behind. It was the moments between the two that changed the feeling of the book. They had an honestly between them that they couldn’t be with anyone else.
Books about grief and grieving characters can often be hard to read, but this one was real, honest and extremely well written. Once I got started, I didn’t want to put the book down.
All in all The Beginning of After has many of the things that make this a great book. Characters you can easily feel invested in, well written and emotionally driven. I am happy to have found this book and was excited at the chance to read it for review. I highly recommend this title to anyone and everyone who enjoy a YA story about teen issues, growing up and the process of two teens as they struggle to find what comes next and to learn to live… after.
FTC Disclaimer: I did NOT pay for this book, nor have I been compensated at all in any way or means for reading and writing this HONEST review.

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  1. I love books that tug at your heartstrings. Does that make me a masochist? Lol.

    Glad you enjoyed this one Lisa. I've been keeping my eye out for my own copy!

  2. I've been seeing several reviews for this one lately. I don't think it's for me, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)


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