September 6, 2011
Jennifer Castle's debut novel The Beginning of After is one that feels so real, you'll be relieved - and then amazed - to know that the events of the novel did not, in fact, happen to the author herself.
Laurel's life changes completely, forever in one instant: her mother, father, and brother are all killed in a car accident. Behind the wheel is Mr Kaufman, David, her bad-boy neighbor's father. Mrs Kaufman is in the car and dies as well, but Mr Kaufman is left in a coma.
Laurel and David are each, separately, elsewhere.
The Beginning of After is Laurel's attempt to go on with her life after losing her family. It's real, it's visceral, and its painful - but it's something you can't put down, either.
This is a book where I feel giving more of a synopsis - explaining, really, any of what happens to Laurel as she begins her life after her family's death would really do a disservice to potential readers. It's not a love story or a coming of age tale where more can be given away, I think the 'whats' of this novel really build on each other (as do the 'hows' of course) and should be discovered as you read.
I love Jennifer Castle's writing. As already stated, this entire novel feel more like a memoir (fictionalized or not) than it does a straight novel. It really does feel real and like something the writer herself experienced.
I appreciate that it's a longer book (432 pages) and we get to experience Laurel's life over a longer span of time; to really see how she grieves and how she grows.
The Beginning of After is a book that is, at times, most definitely painful, but it's beautiful, too. I am really looking forward to the next book from Ms Castle - it's safe to say I'm already a fan.
a gigantic thank you to Harper for sending me an ARC copy of this book. . . now what are you waiting for, go out and get your own!