"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."
Now here's Jennifer to talk about...
My high school graduating class was relatively small --120 students -- many of which I’d known since kindergarten. When I went up to grab my diploma, I walked past kids I had gone to day camp with, had competed in town swim meets with, had trick-or-treated and slumber partied with. We all shared a history that was stronger than any one of us on our own. In other words, I was sick to death of the whole bunch.
I was lucky -- I wasn’t bullied or persecuted in school. But I did feel overlooked and pigeonholed, and that can be its own hell when you’re trying to figure out who you really are, apart from what others do or do not see about you.
Before graduation, all I wanted was to be more than the SmartShy girl, the Drama Club Geek, the English Teacher’s Pet. I did what I could. As senior year wound down, I got a crazy haircut, long on one side and short on the other. I started dressing in my dad’s old clothes and oddball handmade jewelry I bought off the street in Greenwich Village.
But after I took that diploma, I no longer had to style and accessorize my way to an identity. I just had to be. I went off to college and on that first night of freshman orientation, found myself suddenly surrounded by people who only knew me as the girl in room 407, and it was a total rush. For me, that was the way the world first opened up: not through courses I took, or places I went. It was through the people. We came from all over and we came to one another fresh and new, with no history or preconceived notions. We connected over shared interests and life stories and revolting $4-a-case beer.
I would never want to go back to the Before of my high school graduation. It’s like a gorgeous snowglobe, sealed forever. But sometimes it’s fun to admire how pretty it is, and how in certain light all I see are the good memories and the roots of who I am now (and am still becoming).
And then sometimes I write about different girls, in different high schools surrounded by different people…who maybe look just a little familiar to me.
About the book:
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.
About the author:
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. Visit her at http://www.jennifercastle.com
Be sure and visit La Femme Readers on Friday, September 2 for the next stop on the tour!