Author: Jennifer Castle
Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Cover Judge: Eh, it's alright, I suppose.Quote Choice: First line in the book!
Source: For Review
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.
The Beginning of After is a sweet and sad novel about a girl who loses her parents in a car accident and has to live with the emptiness of losing her entire family, the guilt of not being in the car with them, and the confusion of how in the world is she going to live her life without them?
I'm going to start with the negatives, but I did like this book, for the record. I think I went in expecting something really poignant and heart-wrenching (ala Gayle Forman or Wings of the Wicked) but while Laurel's story was sad and awful, it didn't affect me. I wasn't crying or feeling awful or really, really clinging to her character, so some of the emotion was lost on me. And then there's the fact it sometimes slowed down in parts and I'd feel like skimming a bit (which I totally didn't!) to see what was going to happen next. While contemporary is not my strong suit genre, I don't want that to happen while i'm reading a book!
On the other hand, I thought Laurel was a very realistic teenager. She was grief-stricken and sometimes even unable to function but even if she acknowledged it felt strange, she still cared about things like school and Prom. It was moving seeing her clinging on to things that could make her feel normal and I could definitely relate to that. Her grandmother plays a large role in her life, which I really appreciated. She was a constant and stable rock for Laurel, which the girl really needed.
BONUS FACTOR: The popular girls at Laurel's school play a part in her recovery story and they're not total biotches. Right? I'm so sick of reading books where the popular girls in school are mean and awful to the heroine and while the girls in this book were shallow, they genuinely wanted to help Laurel out and make her feel better.
I didn't really feel the romance between Laurel and David, to be perfectly honest. I enjoyed it and I understood their connection with their dead or dying families and the fact that they grew up together but when they did finally collide, I didn't feel the sparks as much as I wanted to. But the build-up was fantastic! I actually liked Laurel's relationship with Other Guy, to be perfectly honest, even though I understand why she couldn't be with him.
Overall, a good book but not very deep or moving for me personally.