|The Beginning of After |
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.
I can only describe The Beginning of After as softly powerful account of how one teenage girl survives a terrible loss. This book is beautifully written and uncomfortably insightful. I felt as if I was listening to the main character, Laurel's private thoughts and feelings as she faced an unimaginable tragedy with the sudden loss of her family. The author paints a vivid and intuitive portrait of a teen trying to cope with this profound loss while also dealing with normal teen situations like prom, SAT's, and relationships.
David was suffering from a similar loss as his family was also involved in the crash that killed Laurel's family. The dynamic between Laurel and David was fascinating to witness. Both suffering from rage, guilt, sorrow, and unbelievable grief, they were alternately drawn to one another, yet unsure of each other. Watching how David struggled to cope with everything made my heart break for him.
The Beginning of After is a wonderful novel that travels through the lowest points of sorrow and leaves the reader with a feeling of hope. I highly recommend this for all ages.
*review copy received from Harper Collins