Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle



Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 9.6.2011
Genre: Contemporary
Keywords: Loss, Grief, Family, Friendship, Love
Pages: 432
Description (from Goodreads):

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.

It isn’t often that a book makes me cry. The few that have are those that have heartbreaking conclusions. THE BEGINNING OF AFTER had me sobbing right from the start. And not just one time…

Wow. What an intense debut novel. Comparisons have been made between the author and Sarah Dessen and , though I’m a huge fan of Dessen’s work, I felt Castle’s writing had a slightly different feel… almost like Castle’s writing had more emotional depth. Much of this was subtle; one carefully chosen word would make my breath catch and eyes water.

I love a book with a good romantic story line, but I’m not sure I’d say that this is a characteristic that clearly identifies this book. The main character does have romantic counterparts, but they aren’t a main focus – which makes sense. After all, Laurel has just lost her family… She’s got a lot more going on than whether or not a boy likes her. Sure, she still thinks about it, but there are other things that require her attention as well. So, while I usually prefer my novels to have romance, I actually liked the fact that it wasn’t a focus in THE BEGINNING OF AFTER… I don’t think it would have been fitting at all.

I’ll be reading subsequent novels by Jennifer Castle… She’s definitely a new contemporary YA voice to watch.

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Review Copy provided by Amazon Vine.


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4 thoughts on “Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

  1. I LOVED this book! I can't wait to read more by Jennifer Castle.I really liked how the relationship between her and David was more of a connection that neither necessarily wanted but that just was. Do you know what I mean? It felt very 'right' to me.

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