Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

The Beginning of After
By: Jennifer Castle
Released: September 6, 2011
Source: Purchased

Purchase the Book: Amazon

"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." (Summary from jennifercastle.com)

Jennifer Castle's The Beginning of After is the story of Laurel, whose whole life changes one night when her parents and little brother are killed in a car accident. The driver is her neighbor and old childhood friend's father whose wife dies in the accident as well. Laurel must now learn how to live her life without her family. David's life is also drastically changed and together Laurel and him find they share a common connection.

The Beginning of After is a heartbreaking but honestly beautiful story about life. I sympathized a great deal for Laurel because she loses her family in one night. Not only does Laurel need to learn to continue living without her family but she has to learn to make it through even the most simple everyday tasks. I admire Laurel for how she handles it all while learning to keep on living throughout the story. Another great aspect I loved about Laurel was when she got involved with the animals at the animal hospital and I loved when she shared a scene with one of the cats or Masher. 

Each character in the book is strongly developed even the supporting characters who I really enjoyed such as Laurel's best friend Meg and Nana. I admire both for how they tried to help Laurel, especially Nana. I also love David and it was interesting to see how differently he handled it all compared to Laurel. I enjoyed the natural connection that grows between Laurel and David as well.

The Beginning of After is paced at a great speed. I never felt that the plot was rushed even though it follows Laurel dealing with the aftermath of the accident for a whole year after. I enjoyed that it followed Laurel's story for a whole year because it gave me an opportunity to go on this journey with her and experience even the smallest moments along with the life changing ones. Some moments in this story made me cry but there are still a few lighter moments. Another great thing about this book is that it makes you stop and think about how you treat another person when they go through something terrible. Castle makes an excellent debut and I am looking forward to what she will write next. I loved The Beginning of After and I highly recommend it.

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