Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

by Jennifer Castle

Arc copy from netgalley
Expected publication:
September 6th 2011 by HarperTeen


Details from Goodreads:

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.


Just seeing the title, the cover and the book's description you’ll expect this novel an amazing book.
A gigantic emotional ride toward moving on from the past? The heck, a must read right?

Being what this book is, I know writing this kind of story is a hard work for authors. They have to make the readers [us] to feel the impact of the story by making us care for the characters. And in order for us to care for the characters they have to make the voice of the protagonist a powerful or a distinct one. They have to insert a great depth of emotion into the story that is realistic and a story line that imaginative enough for the readers not get boring of it. And lastly an eventful acceptance is a must for this type of book.

I will not say that I enjoyed reading this book because this kind of tragedy is immensely depressing for me. But I’ll say that is a good one. It examines a lot of interesting issues such as the process of grief, life changes, and what are our lives are supposed to be. The story is gentle, a bit of heartfelt and real. Laurel's journey through grief is long and difficult. She didn’t know how to handle the sudden changes; from being a part of a happy family to being part of nothing.

However, for some reason it didn't resonate with me as deeply as I expected it to be. It’s not moving enough that will brand and touch your heart deeply in it. I’m not an expert at giving a review, but being an almost long time novel reader I find the lack of internal protagonist feelings, which is important to book like this. And there’s the process of grief and Laurens daily activity after her family’s death part that I find undeveloped. The first pages are quite interesting. I even find myself pity and nearly in a crying state for just thinking of what Lauren and David will do now. My mind keeps jumping to conclusions like both of them going to a road trip or something. Come on, It’s the best idea for escaping a town that is suffocating in a way that they keep treating you as an orphan right? But no, it didn’t happen. It just goes to living a daily mundane activity with only her grandmother and the David unexpected appearance in their life.

For me it will work better if it’s a two perspective read - Lauren’s perspective and David’s. They are both in the same situation right? So why did the author make only one side? Plus for me hearing David’s thoughts is more interest than Lauren. Everything she did was only cautious that makes the journey quite vapid.

Well, overall it wasn't the story line that I found dull, it is mainly about the writing. That's not to say that it’s bad. It’s good despite the lack of the vivid descriptions, undeveloped storyline and characters personality.

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