Source: Publisher provided egalley on Netgalley
Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy.
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.Now, normally I cry at everything. I cry at stupid things. I cry at the smallest details that no one else cries at. But I did not cry in The Beginning of After. I could tell I maybe should have, but I just didn't. I found The Beginning of After to be just a decent book, not extraordinary or life-altering, but entertaining enough and worth a read.
The book starts just before a fatal car accident that kills our protagonist, Laurel's, parents and little brother, along with their neighbor Mrs. Kaufman. Her husband, who was driving, is in a coma, and unlikely to come out. It is supposed to be all about Laurel's grief and how she deals with it. Honestly, I felt like her grief only played a part sometimes. She'd have mini episodes of freakouts, and then be totally fine for a few chapters. While I didn't like much of what Laurel did or said, I can get over that. A girl who's lost basically her entire existence has that excuse. I did find her great interest in prom to be odd. Your whole family is dead, and you're worrying about a boy asking you to prom? Yes, you need a sense of normalcy, but the switch between her state of mind is jarring and didn't feel right.
I have a feeling I'm not in the majority of people when I say that I didn't find the book to be all that moving. I honestly don't know how I would react should something like that happen to me and I could be completely off base in my thoughts. I felt like Laurel's grandmother's grief was much more compelling, and we only saw brief glances of that. But in those brief glances, you could see a woman torn apart with grief but who has to hold herself together to be the strong face for her granddaughter. That is where I found the most emotional parts of the book.
I feel like it sounds like I really didn't like this book, and that is utterly not true. I can see the message Jennifer Castle was trying to get across. I thought the story was paced well and flowed well enough. I can see fans of Sarah Dessen loving it easily. I just didn't find it to be as deep as it seemed to be striving to be.
Risk a paper cut? If you're dying for something dying to make you cry, try it.
To buy: Amazon