By Jennifer Castle
Egalley (approx 432 pages)
Summary: After a family get together with her neighbours, Laurel decides not to go out with everyone, but rather stay in and catch up on homework. With that decision her life changes forever. Her parents, brother and her next door neighbour are killed in a tragic car accident. Now Laurel must struggle to live her life in the absence of those she loves and lean on David, whose father caused the accident.
Review: The Beginning of After focuses on the process of grief and the steps necessary to piece back together one’s life after such a tragic accident. The plot is slow moving, but the writing is rich and reflective. It doesn’t read as fast as similar books such as The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, but there is sweetness to the story that warrants the slower pacing. Castle does a great job at showcasing the highs and lows of moving on through believable and likeable characters. Lauren’s job at the vet provided an interesting twist and provided more depth as readers see how Lauren’s grief works itself out with the animals she cares for. David was a bit of a disappointment and I’m not sure readers will buy his relationship with Laurel. However, this doesn’t subtract from the book and those who enjoy “loss” books will enjoy Castle’s story.
This is Jennifer Castle’s first novel
Authors website: http://www.jennifercastle.com/home
Additional Info: Check out Jennifer’s thoughts on “Ya Fiction and ‘the death cliche’”
Grade Level: JS