Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: The Beginning of After

Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Series: None
Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Number of Pages: 432
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: NetGalley
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 don’t really know what to say about this book. Thing is, I enjoyed it. I wish I could simply say that and be done with it, but I can’t really. The problem is that I thought it would be a book that I would connect with, having felt that kind of grief myself, yet I didn’t really feel anything. Why? I felt like most of the story would have played out better if it had been set a couple of months after the incident, not right after. It was too much about her date to prom, her falling for the son of the man she blames for her family’s death. Not that much about the grieving I thought I would see.

Yes, Laurel doesn’t keep on living her life as if nothing had happened. Yes, we see her acting out sometime her pain. Yet, all I could think is “oh, this is sad”. It didn’t make me feel her pain, nor made me want to cry for her. That annoyed me a little because losing someone in an accident is ten time worst to me than losing someone to an illness, because I feel like you realized that letting them go is letting them be free of their pain.

I connected more with David’s pain. He’s looking for a way to get control of his life, of his pain. He’s looking for a place to belong, because he can’t seem to find it with those who used to be around him. That’s something I can understand. That’s something I can connect with.

One thing this book does show the reader is how drastically something like that can change one life. It changes the way you see life, the way you see the others around you and the way you even see yourself. For a debut novel, Jennifer Castle gave me something worth coming back for more. Yes, I do recommend checking it out. The only thing I would say to you is not to read it as a book about grief. Read it as a book about life after a tragic event. After all, it is called The Beginning of After.


  1. I thought this was about grief too but I'll take your advice. I hope that'll ensure I like it. Good review!

  2. I am looking forward to reading this book. Great review. I also like the cover!

    Tia @ Falling For Books

  3. Nice review! I hadn't heard about this one. It sounds like there could be an interesting dynamic between the male and female main characters. I might have to check this one out :0)

  4. It's a shame you couldn't connect to the book, but glad you enjoyed it overall! I do like the sound of this one, so I'll probably still read it, but I will keep what you've said in mind. Great review!

  5. I just reviewed this one as well, and I didn't enjoy it very much. I agree, I just didn't connect with Laurel's story on a very deep level. It was as if I was watching from afar instead of being right there with her. Thanks for the honest review!

  6. Hmm interesting -- I would have thought it would focus more on the grief as well.