Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Laurel has two parents and a younger brother; they’re one of the few Jewish families in her neighbourhood. That’s why they’re observing Passover with the Kaufmans, a family that they aren’t really that close with, not really. Laurel isn’t friendly with David Kaufman; they’re in different groups at school. After he bails on Passover and Laurel heads home to work on some homework, that’s when Before ends. Mrs. Kaufman, Laurel’s parents, and her brother are all killed in a car accident; Mr. Kaufman is in a coma. Laurel has no idea how to go on when everything is so different. David is also grieving, but do they really have anything in common? Laurel must figure out how to deal with everything that comes After.

I picked this book up as soon as I received it, and it was very hard for me to put down. Laurel was a strong, compelling character, and as so much of the novel depended on her, I really got into her story. I was particularly interested in how her relationship with her grandmother played out; her Nana comes to stay with her after the accident, and it’s not always easy for either of them. They’ve both lost family, people that they care about. Issues of guilt and blame and peace and loss are woven through the whole novel along with Laurel’s struggle at restarting a normal life when everyone recognizes her as a victim of a tragedy. Definitely a title worth checking out, and a great book to recommend for people who want something like If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

I read an advance review copy from NetGalley courtesy of HarperTeen.

Find it at Amazon.

Don't miss Jennifer Castle's website.

Read it with:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

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