Release Date: September 6, 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Review Source: Netgalley
Synopsis: (from 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.
First of all, I cannot believe this is a debut. The characters are so strong and the story was so beautiful and engaging. The book examines a lot of interesting issues such as the process of grief, big life changes, and what are our lives are “supposed” to be.
I absolutely adored the main character, Laurel. I found her voice to be so true! All the grief, humour, love, and questioning felt absolutely real. Even though ‘The Beginning of After’ is very different from ‘The Sky is Everywhere’ the two books share similar themes, and I think fans of either would enjoy the other (and I don’t make that comparison lightly!).
What makes this book so great is that it is about dealing with grief in a realistic way. Everyday life is still there when you’re going through horrible things, and Jennifer Castle shows this wonderfully. Castle brings in a lot of different aspects to the story, such as how Laurel deals back at school, her job at the animal clinic (loved the animal aspect!), and her relationship with her Nana.
The one thing I didn’t completely buy was Laurel and David’s relationship in a romantic sense. David was interesting and incredibly lovable, and I totally understood (and adored) their connection, but I would have liked to have seen some other indication of why they worked, beyond just understanding each other’s grief. However, this was the one (tiny) weak spot in an otherwise amazing book. This book features moments that will make your heart ache, but tons of lovely heartwarming ones as well. The ending was hopeful but realistic, reinforcing the idea that when bad things happen you can only try and move past them, making the best of things as you enter “the beginning of after”.
The Cover: I love the colouring so much, and even the way the title is put over top of the picture I think is gorgeous. The girl on the cover makes it a bit typical, but it's still a great cover overall.
Find The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca