Book Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
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 have been trying to pick up more contemporary books this year. It seems that all of them have been about dealing with death. So far this is the one I would recommend to my friends. I felt that this book dealt more with the relationships between people after a tragic loss.
Although we follow the story of Laurel, this story incorporates how differently people deal with the loss of loved ones. Laurel's way of dealing is different than David's and her grandmothers.
I have read reviews on this book and find people saying that nothing happens. It really is not a story with a lot going on. It is a story about growth, loss and life. The interactions between people and even how pets can help with loneliness. The human need to have something or someone to care for. Looking to others for strength and that sometimes moving on is a very slow process with baby steps.
A huge part of the story is also forgiveness. In situations like this that you want to blame others for what has happened. Even if others are responsible there is a degree of forgiveness that must be given to be able to move on.
I found this story deeper and better to understand than others I have read previously. Even though there is not a lot of things happening, I felt much more connected to these characters and even though I have not had any tragedies in my life, I felt that I could understand what they were going through. Even without added elements of too much drama, ghosts or teenage angst. This story was real for me and touched more to my style of contemporary novels. I was about to give up hope on continuing to find contemporary stories to read, but I really did enjoy this one.
Other teen reads that help with death and loss:
Wherever You Go by Heather Davis
Before I fall by Lauren Oliver
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
These books are all from girls perspectives I have not read one with a guys perspective yet. If you have any other suggestions please comment below.