Author: Jennifer Castle
How Received: library
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.
For somebody who isn't a huge fan of contemporary fiction - give me magic or give me death! - I quite enjoyed The Beginning of After. If I was going for cliche reviewer lingo, I would call it poignant and beautifully written, but hey, when have I ever done that?
I loved the characters in The Beginning of After; they seemed realistic and complicated and flawed and I loved them all. I thought the way Laurel handled her problems was beautifully handled, and I loved the juxtaposition of her and David. (And their relationship was interesting to watch develop. I thought all of the side characters -- Joe, Etta, Meg -- were all fabulously fleshed out.
I think that's why I liked this story so much; if the characters hadn't been so fleshed out and beautifully realistic, the story wouldn't have flowed so well. The plot is interesting, and of course I loved the world -- it's set in a town near me! -- but the characters are what make the story excellent.
Overall Rating & Final Comments: 9/10. A little slow at times, but beautifully written with fantastically real characters.
Have any of you read this? What do you think?