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 Break Down:
If you’re a reader looking for a memorial and a tear-choking book, well hells bells, you've found it.
The Beginning of After is a story of loss and love, but so are so many other books out there; so what makes this one worth reading?
With her debut, author Castle paints a heartbreaking image of two teens suffering and who have connected by their mutual loss. Laurel and David are initially only acquaintances because of the proximity of their homes, but this tentative relationship develops into a strong bond as they struggle with and against each other in their grief.
The grief narrative worked so well in because of the strength and distinctness of Castle’s characters as well as her beautiful writing. Despite, or perhaps of this frequently used theme, The Beginning of After takes a fresh and delicate look at the both destructive and purgative power of grief that are sure tug on the readers’ heart strings.
Laurel’s emotions and actions were straight on the mark. She moves through shock and denial to out-right anger and sadness with the realities of a real-life loss. Jennifer Castle does an excellent job of capturing the intricate parts of grief; from the random splurges of details and images she remembers of her family and life before
Laurel’s relationship with David was complicated and realistic. Something we don't see often and what Castle shows, is a relationship that develops and changes over the years – from being childhood friends to not friends at all – and how they were brought together again by the tragedy. I appreciated every character in this novel, and felt they were all well written.
The Beginning of After was an emotional journey and an heart stopping debut for author Jennifer Castle.
“Then I closed my eyes.
That was it. That was Before. Now here we go into After.”