young adult book reviews & more

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Everything irrevocably changes the day that Laurel’s brother and parents are killed in a car accident. They were at their neighbors’ house, and maybe if Laurel hadn’t decided to go home, things would have turned out differently. Maybe if the Kaufmans hadn’t wanted to go out for dessert, Laurel’s family and Mrs. Kaufman wouldn’t be dead and Mr. Kaufman wouldn’t be in the hospital. There are too many ifs and maybes in Laurel’s new life, and they’re threatening to tear apart her world. Laurel can’t just go back to the way things were, and she finds herself growing apart from her friends and withdrawing into herself. The only thing that remains constant is her neighbor David Kaufman. Like Laurel, David is still reeling from the aftermath of the tragedy, and maybe this is the source of their inexplicable connection. As each struggles with their own loss, they’ll learn that maybe there is still hope and beauty in the after.

The Beginning of After is one of those many stories about loss and love, but it is also one that is done extremely well. Debut author Castle paints a heartbreaking image of two teens suffering from and connected by their mutual loss. Laurel and David are initially only acquaintances because of the proximity of their homes, but this tentative relationship develops into a strong bond as they struggle with and against each other in their grief. The grief narrative works so well in The Beginning of After because of the strength and vividness of Castle’s characters as well as her beautiful writing. It’s hard not to care about Laurel and David, especially with all the tragedy that is thrown their way. Despite, or perhaps because of its frequently used themes, The Beginning of After is a fresh and delicate look at the both destructive and cathartic power of grief that is sure to grab readers’ hearts.

The Beginning of After will be enjoyed by fans of Saving June by Hannah Harrington, Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi, and The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas. I’m more than eager to see what Castle writes next.

Rating: 4.5

Review copy from NetGalley

1 munch(es) :

Anonymous said...

Sounds really good.... I will give it a try!

Post a Comment

Let the munching begin.