The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

8:00 AM

Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Release Date: September 6, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 432
Source: ARC provided by author

Overall: 5 Stars

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.

My love for The Beginning of After first began when I first saw its absolutely gorgeous cover... and after I read what the novel was about, I had a warm gut feeling it would be a contemporary novel I would come to really enjoy as well. Jennifer Castle has made a wonderful debut with The Beginning of After… and its cover is a perfect reflection of its contents. Laurel is filled with pain and grief for her family, but despite all of this, there’s always a ray of light and love that shines through for Laurel in her moments of darkness.

I have so much admiration for Laurel and how she continued to persevere in the face of such a horrific and tragic turn of events. I silently wept for Laurel’s loss as she struggled to cope and come to terms with the “after” of the car incident that changed her life forever. Even though I knew what would happen to Laurel’s family, it was still so sad to read and her grief became my own. She channels her pain into working with animals… and focusing on her schoolwork so she could attend a good college and make her parents proud.

There’s a comforting familiarity to Jennifer Castle’s writing. It’s not as poetic as I might have assumed… but it still strikes right into your core. And while romance is certainly incorporated into the story, I wouldn’t exactly consider it the main focus. Laurel’s relationship with David is a complicated one at best. Their families may have been friends but it’s hard for Laurel to think about David without her thoughts leading to his now comatose father, the man behind the wheel who Laurel finds responsible for the accident. David’s path in dealing with his grief takes an entirely different path compared to Laurel’s, but as time progresses, we slowly see how these two can help heal each other for the better.

For those who love reading contemporary novels that hit all the right spots in your heart, Jennifer Castle’s The Beginning of After is not to be missed. It’s a beautiful novel of loss and heartbreak… but also of healing and hope. I’m already looking forward to reading Jennifer Castle’s next novel!

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  1. I read this one a few weeks ago and I did like it but it wasn't really love like it seems to be with you.


    But I agree that it was a lovely debut novel, :)

  2. I can't wait to read this one. It really sounds like a journey and I've heard so many good things about it. Thanks for the review!

  3. I've been reading a lot more contemporary novels recently, so I'll definitely give this one a try. Glad you liked it, it sounds like a really emotional read. I love the cover too! Great review :).

  4. Thanks for the review!! I have this on pre-order so it's good to hear that you've enjoyed it. :D

  5. This book sounds so good and definitely like my kind of read. I'll have to pick it up when it comes out. Great review!

  6. Sold! LOL. This looks like something I would love.

  7. So glad you loved this one! I thought it was really moving and lovely, and I can't believe it was a debut!

  8. Lol, you already know how I felt about this one but it's nice to see a differing opinion :)