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.
Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publication: 06th September 2011
The cover of The Beginning of After immediately made me want to read this novel, I find it very graceful and ethereal. This cover totally epitomizes the story, as this book offers us a touching, emotional and moving read. The Beginning of After is full of emotions, sentiments and feelings. It's sometimes sad, sometimes heartbreaking and tragic, but it's always full of hope and faith. I was really touched by this book, I couldn't help thinking.. What if? what if it happens to me? I have to warn you, after reading it, you are so going to want to say "I love you" to all the people that are dear to you.
Laurel lost everything the night she decided to study, instead of going out for an ice cream with her family - her parents and her little brother. All three did not survive the awful car accident. In The beginning of after we follow Laurel's life, as she is slowly trying to rebuild herself after this dreadful and horrifying tragedy. We follow all the stages of her mourning, as she is trying to cope with when all the students are staring at her and as she is trying to stay strong when her only desire is to hide under her duvet and cry her heart out. I loved Laurel and all the characters because they are really believable and credible. The reader can feel their pain and really easily relate to them.
It's true that it's perhaps not the book to start when you're a bit sad or depressed, but it never gets upsetting. This novel is packed with emotions, but it's always tinged with hope and optimism. Jennifer Castle's writing is very smooth and delicate. I loved how she deals with life and death, everything feels right and appropriate. The Beginning of after is the kind of novel that makes you wonder about yourself, about life, its fragility and tenuousness. Overall, it's a fantastic and heartbreaking story.
The plot is quite slow since the author doesn't insist on action, but obviously emphasizes Laurel's feelings and grief. However, it never gets boring or annoying. I was taken into the story, I wanted to see how things would evolve for the young girl, what would be the next stage of her mourning and finally I finished this novel within hours, without even realizing it. If I thought it would be a simple love story between Laurel and David, it's actually much more than that. The love story is really not a huge focus for this novel as David swoops in and out of Laurel's life and as he's not always present.
Loss, grief, sorrow, tragedy, but also joy, hope and little moments of happiness: here is what's waiting for you in The beginning of after, or how a simple decision can disrupt a life forever. Even if I did not cry, I was totally moved and touched by this novel, especially in the last pages and the epilogue. Jennifer Castle's writing is touching. I often had a lump in my throat when I was reading this book, which reminds us that life is not always fair.
To sum up, I totally loved this novel and I had a wonderful time reading it. It will be released on the 6th of September 2011. If you love emotional story, grounded in reality, but always full of hope, you should definitively check this one out and The Beginning of After is absolutely what you need. In my opinion, it was a really promising debut for Jennifer Castle and I now can't wait for her next books.
A copy was provided by the publisher, via Net Galley, against my completely honest review. Thank you.