Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Publication: September 6th, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 432

Goodreads Summary:
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.

My Rating: 4.0 / 5

What I thought about it:
While I usually have a hard time dealing with stories that concentrate on such sad topics like this one, I thoroughly enjoyed The Beginning of After. It's not necessarily about the loss itself, but about how it's possible to deal with the pain and to grieve without having to feel bad about moving on. But at the same time it's a heartfelt story that put tears in my eyes and made me hope that I will never have to go through something like this.

While I'm lucky not to know how it feels to experience such a severe loss, it feels like Laurel's (and David's) way to deal with it is very realistic. You can notice different phases in her / their grieving and it makes their pain even more vivid. Jennifer Castle has a wonderful way with words and managed to portray such complicated feelings perfectly. I especially love how Laurel's memories of her family continually appear in random moments - just when something small reminds her of her time with her parents and her brother.

The Beginning of After is a story full of hope and I enjoyed seeing Laurel and David realize that they can help and understand each other. Their relationship grew slowly and every one of their tiny steps towards each other and their future was lovely to watch - even their conflicts were important for the development of their releationship.

What I also liked to see was how the secondary characters - Laurel's grandmother, her best friend, other people from school, etc. - dealed with the situation. People who never had cared about her before, suddenly treated her differently, tried to do the right things - somtimes without realizing that this might even be the wrong solution.

All in all, The Beginning of After was a beautifully written story and despite a somewhat open ending, I was left happy with how they moved on. It was hopeful and everyone who loves contemporary stories with realistic characters, will probably enjoy this novel.

Have you read The Beginning of After? What did you think about it?


  1. Heard so many good things about this book. Gotta read it! Nice review :)

  2. I really enjoyed this book as well, and thought the author did a wonderful job describing the grief that the characters were going through. So glad you enjoyed it as well! Great review, as always!

  3. Interesting. Like you, I dont like books with sad premises, therefore I am not sure if i'll read it; however, I am also a mood reader so im sure that If i'm in a particularly glum mood I'll probably pick it up. Great review

  4. Thanks for the review. I should look into it myself.

    Awesome blog you have here! :)

  5. Great review, ive heard brilliant things about this book and I cant wait to read it myself! :D


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