Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
First published September 6, 2011
425 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780061985799 (ISBN10: 0061985791)
Life can change in an instant. For sixteen-year-old Laurel, it’s the moment her family is killed in a car accident caused by her bad-boy neighbor’s father.
Laurel’s life is split into Before and After, and she must navigate a new reality filled with overwhelming memories and a best friend who no longer understands her. David Kaufman, the boy next door, also lost his mother in the accident and is now comatose.
As Laurel tries to adjust to her new life, David swoops in and out of her life, and she finds herself drawn to him despite her better judgment. They share a bond through their mutual loss that changes them both in unexpected ways.
Jennifer Castle’s poignant debut novel is a testament to how one moment can shake us to our core and turn our bones to plastic.
About the Author
Jennifer Castle attended Brown University where she earned her B.A. in Creative Writing. She has had a variety of jobs including serving as an assistant to a celebrity publicist, working as an advertising copywriter, and struggling as a screenwriter.
Eventually, she found her niche producing websites geared towards children and teenagers. Castle’s debut novel, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was recognized as a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and was also named a “Best of the Best” book by the Chicago Public Library.
YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE was selected as a 2015 Florida Teens Read book. Castle’s most recent novel, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, was published in June 2016.
She currently resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.
Jennifer Castle’s debut novel, The Beginning of After, is a heart-wrenching exploration of grief, love, and healing. Published on September 6, 2011, this young adult novel has been praised for its moving portrayal of loss and its ability to capture the complexities of human emotions.
The story follows Laurel Meisner, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just lost her parents and younger brother in a car accident. The novel opens with Laurel struggling to come to terms with her loss, feeling overwhelmed by the sudden changes in her life.
She moves to a new town to live with her aunt and uncle, where she meets a boy named David Kaufman, who becomes her friend and confidante.
Castle’s writing style is simple and elegant, with vivid descriptions that bring the characters and setting to life. The novel is narrated in the first person by Laurel, allowing the reader to experience her grief and journey towards healing firsthand.
The author’s use of flashbacks and memories helps to deepen the emotional impact of the story, as we learn more about Laurel’s family and the events leading up to the accident.
One of the strengths of The Beginning of After is Castle’s ability to create nuanced and realistic characters. Laurel is a complex protagonist, struggling to balance her grief with the desire to move on and live her life.
David, too, is a well-drawn character, with his own struggles and secrets. The supporting characters, including Laurel’s aunt and uncle and her best friend Meg, are also well-developed and add depth to the story.
The novel’s themes of loss, love, and healing are universal, and Castle handles them with sensitivity and grace. The Beginning of After is a poignant and emotional read that will resonate with anyone who has experienced loss or struggled with grief.
The novel’s exploration of the different ways people cope with tragedy, as well as the importance of friendship and community, is both timely and timeless.
If there is a weakness to The Beginning of After, it is perhaps the pacing of the story, which can be slow at times. However, this is a minor quibble in an otherwise beautifully crafted novel.
Overall, The Beginning of After is a must-read for anyone who enjoys young adult fiction that deals with complex themes and emotions. Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is a powerful and moving exploration of grief and healing, with well-drawn characters and beautiful writing.
The Beginning of After is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.