I am a huge fan of literature that makes you step outside of your comfort zone and think about the complexities of reality, so when I first heard about “The Beginning of After” I got excited. Having loved books like “If I Stay” by Gayle Foreman and “The Truth About Forever” by Sarah Dessen (both of which were referenced on the binding of this book)I was certain that this would be no different.
I was right.
The story (in short) is about 2 teens struggling to cope with loss. Laurel, a sole survivor of her immediate family it forced to live her life “seemingly” alone. Though her grandmother is near, she finds it difficult to (internally) move past the hand fate has dealt her. David is also a survivor, but..unfortunately for him, he is the surviving son of the man who caused the deaths of Laurel’s entire family. This book follows their journey through the stages of grief, as well as their own self-discovery and the realization of what happens when you finally let people see you are stronger than you appear.
Jennifer Castle’s writing in this novel (her debut by the way) was quite impressive. There were several scenes that relied solely on her ability to form an image in the readers mind (panic attacks, depression…etc) and she accomplished these feats without missing a beat. The characters were wonderfully crafted, sucking the reader in from the very first page, and the push and pull between the to leads was masterfully penned.
I did find myself irritated by David’s actions on several occasions, but by the end of the book those same actions spoke to his “reactions” and made for a deeper emotional connection between the person reading and the material that was being read.
Overall…and stunning debut and beautiful read, one I wholeheartedly recommend and will pass along to my friends.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Some people need help when healing, others just need space.
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Here is the actual synopsis….in case you were curious.
“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.”