Monday, September 5, 2011

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Published: September 6, 2011 by HarperTeen
Pages: 432/Hardcover
Challenge: 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Source: NetGalley

Summary: 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.

Review: I was really excited about The Beginning of After, but it ended up not satisfying me like I hoped it would.

I didn't get a feel for the main characters, Laurel and David, so I didn't connect well with either of them. I also thought the romance between the two was odd. They did spend a lot of time together after the accident, but it still seemed weird that they were together as a couple. 

This was suppose to be a book about Laurel and David dealing with their grief, but I didn't feel the "grief" aspect in the book, especially with Laurel. I felt like this could have just been a book about a girl whose family wasn't present in her life. The fact that I never really met her family could be why I didn't get the feeling of loss. Laurel's parents and brother are introduced in the first chapter, but that's not really enough time to get to know them.

I also found Laurel's relationship with her best friend to be strange. Throughout the book I could tell that they were growing apart and then they had a big fight about it, but then it seemed like they just made up. There was nothing really leading up to it, it just kind of happened. I was also hoping Castle would go a little further into the problems at home that Laurel's friend was suffering.

The Beginning of After manages to deliver a message of grief and loss and how to deal with it, just not the magnitude I was hoping for. There was no connection with the characters, but it was relatively fast paced and was an easy read.

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