Monday, August 29, 2011

The Beginning Of After by Jennifer Castle

Book:  The Beginning Of After
Author:  Jennifer Castle
Release date:  September 6, 2011
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Pages:  432
Source:  Publisher

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 breath of fresh air for contemporary fiction lovers like me. I wasn’t hooked at first but that quickly changed as I was drawn into Laurel’s world and by the end I was in love.  Oh and one of the best things about it?  It’s a standalone.  =)

Laurel Meisner never thinks what life would be like without her family until she actually loses them one night in a terrible car accident.  What’s worse is that the guy who caused the accident is still alive.  Laurel doesn’t know how to cope with that on top of her grief but there seems to be one person who gets that: David, the son of the man driving the car that night.  Their relationship is by no means normal and David is so far from what Laurel needs but for some reason she can’t stay away from him.  Could David maybe be the perfect person to show Laurel how to live again?

At first I couldn’t connect to Laurel.  She was going through something very traumatic and she seemed to show very little emotion.  Sure she spent a lot of time huddled under her covers wishing the world would go away but I didn’t get a sense of loss from her.  When she finally did break down I loved her for it.  She seemed more real to me after that.  The rest of the characters I had no problem with.  I loved Meg and how she was always there for Laurel.  Joe was a sweetheart and Nana was so awesome.  David confused me a lot of the time but by the end of the book I loved him.

My biggest worry about the book was that I wouldn’t share the sense of loss that Laurel felt.  The first chapter is the only chapter with her family actually alive and I thought that that would not be enough time to get the relationship across to readers.  I had no reason to be worried.  I felt Laurel’s pain like it was my own and I spent a lot of time crying while reading this one.

Overall, The Beginning Of After is a beautifully written, heartbreaking story of love, loss, and gaining the strength needed to go on with life.  I adored it and Jennifer Castle is a debut author I can’t wait to read more from.

First line:  Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After.

Rating:  A-

Cover:  A++

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  1. meandmom

    Sounds like a goood book. I am a new GFC follower. Visit my daughter and I at our blog, Says Me Says Mom ( where we are having our first book giveaway.

  2. Christina Kit.

    Have heard wonderful things about this book and this author, and now with your review I’m sold!! Love the unconventional love interest, and how the supporting characters are likable and real too.

    Have you read her next one, about teens on reality TV?

    Lovely review 🙂

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