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The Beginning of After

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  7,869 ratings  ·  689 reviews
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-
Hardcover, 425 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by HarperTeen
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  7,869 ratings  ·  689 reviews

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Wendy Darling
This isn't a bad book, although it's not really a very deep one, and its hook--a girl embracing life after her family's death--may really be its greatest weakness. It actually took awhile for there to be any discussion about Laurel's grief or lack of it at all, to the point that I was thinking This IS supposed to be the main point of this book, right?

Here are a few things you might want to know about The Beginning of After:

1. The book cover is pretty.
2. It means well.
3. But contrary to what you
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Hopeful, beautifully written, and nothing short of spectacular, The Beginning of After wraps the reader in for a long and amazing journey full of laughs and tears and smiles as Laurel and David make their trip to the after from the beginning. I simply could not have asked for a better contemporary read and I am sure many will agree.

They say everything can change in one quick second, but Laurel never realized this until that fateful day when everything fell apart. Before that day, Laurel was the
Aj the Ravenous Reader
Short chapters, easy to read, humor scattered in the pages to make the atmosphere a bit light despite the strong undercurrent of grief and pain of losing practically everyone you love. But at the same time, it’s also realistic as Laurel tries to move on, decides to attend prom for example and agrees to go with a guy on a date, just deal with life as she would before the accident although I feel hard for her every time she is reminded of any member of her family in almost everywhere she goes and ...more
Susan's Reviews
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm glad I decided to make my own mind up about Jennifer Castle's The Beginning of After. There was much criticism by other Goodread's reviewers of the fact that Laurel did not appear to be grieving shortly after her family's death. I can only assume that these critics have never experienced a grief too deep, even for tears.
In the first few chapters, I saw that Laurel was clamping down on her emotions and memories, staying away from anything that would breach the walls she was building around h
Mar 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.

Nothing. Happened.

Yes, you read it right: nothing happened in the entire 400+ novel. Oh, mundane events occurred, all right. Laurel went to school. She went to her therapist. She cried on her bed. She got a job at the animal shelter. But nothing of significance appeared on the horizon. The novel was a gigantic blob of nothingness. I don’t know about you, but when I pick up a piece of fiction, I expect to be dazzled or touched or experience
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary, meh, ya, 2011, arcs
In all fairness, this probably deserves to be rounded up to 3, but I was so disappointed I just can't bring myself to do it.

The Beginning of After tells the story of Laurel, and the way her life changes after her parents and younger brother are killed in a car accident during her junior year of high school. I expected an intensely emotional read, one of grief and sorrow and healing, however what I got was mostly a story about boys and prom dates.

While Laurel's grief was poignant and well done
Mar 01, 2011 marked it as did-not-finish
By page 50 I was like this:

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Which is why I decided to abandon it.
Laurel is a typical teenager living a typical life.

She has a mum.
She has a dad.
She even has a little brother.
She goes to school.
She has a best friend, Meg.
She gets straight As.
She does everything right.

One evening, when Laurel's family and the Kaufman family are having a dinner, Laurel does what she normally does.

Smiles politely whilst trying to avoid the eye of David Kaufman, her childhood friend who's probably forgotten all their history together and is far more interested in h
Katrina Passick Lumsden
I'm not really sure how to review this book. I read it a couple of weeks ago, and I've forgotten a lot of the things that happened, so I don't think that's a very glowing recommendation. It definitely didn't stay with me, but I do remember it wasn't terrible. The writing is pretty good, the characters are actually fairly unique and all have their own issues. The pacing just seemed to drag, and I felt like there was a lot in there that just didn't need to be there. Laurel's entire family is kille ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It pains me to say this, but The Beginning of After disappointed me. It had me by the heartstrings through most of the story, but Jennifer Castle eventually just broke my heart.

That said and out there, I will still recommend this book. There were a few hard and rare topics and feelings brought into this story of loss and grief which are typically not found in YA fiction. Castle talks about the different ways people grief, selfishness in the process, and actually using the loss and grief to one’s
Steph Su
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Oh, this book. Sigh. In the beginning I had no interest in reading yet another YA contemporary talking about grieving the death of family members. There’s really, truly only so much I can read about grief plots. But then, inspired by high praise from early reviewers, I was convinced to give THE BEGINNING OF AFTER a shot—only to wish, after a long and drawn-out struggle, that I had just stuck with my original instincts.

To give credit where credit is due, I actually quite admire what THE BEGINNIN
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I think I picked a horrible day to read this book. I started the day off crying this morning watching the remembrance ceremonies on television and spent the entire day in a somber mood, not only because of the day itself but because of this novel. Yet, at the end of the day I felt a sense of contentment. We may never forget, but we can still heal.

That is what The Beginning of After was for me. It wasn’t a book about a girl losing her entire family. It was a story about a girl healing from a ter
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In The Beginning of After, Jennifer Castle explores what it means to survive. Though there are many such stories in the young adult genre, this novel stands out. It examines not just the grief, but the process of learning to live again when nothing will ever be the same. Laurel is understandably a mess, and it's impossible not to cry for her as she makes it through each day on trial and error -- going back to school, breaking down at a party, staying in bed for a week, rescuing strays and almost ...more
Diane ϟ [ Lestrange ]
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 o
Aug 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-finished
I usually don’t like not finishing a book. In this case however, I approve myself that it’s fine. I had many issues with this book from the 100 or so pages I had read, which then I couldn’t go on any further wasting my time on it.

The Beginning of After from what I’ve read is about Laurel whose parents and brother die in a car accident and then. . .life goes on as it usually does. That’s all I had come out from the hundred pages I had read. Let’s get this straight! If your family is killed and yo
Sara Grochowski
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist
It isn't often that a book makes me cry. The few that have are those that have heartbreaking conclusions. THE BEGINNING OF AFTER had me sobbing right from the start. And not just one time...

Wow. What an intense debut novel. Comparisons have been made between the author and Sarah Dessen and , though I'm a huge fan of Dessen's work, I felt Castle's writing had a slightly different feel... almost like Castle's writing had more emotional depth. Much of this was subtle; one carefully chosen word woul
Jun 04, 2013 added it
Shelves: ya

Yet another YA about a teen losing most of her family. Death sure haunts the teen protagonist these days! Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily, although I always read with an extra dose of horrified sympathy for the protag's grandparent(s). Here, especially, the grandmother had my sympathy and admiration. Not an easy read, and the author makes you feel not only for Laurel (and her grandmother), but also for David, whose father caused the crash that killed everyone else.
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I am going to say 2.5 stars but that is pushing it. I will try and write up a review later...
Mary Catherine
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars on An Ordinary World

In a time where the majority of young adult fiction focuses on the supernatural, the fantastical, and the dystopian, Jennifer Castle walks down another, more familiar path in her debut novel, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER – one that every teenager has either experienced or worries about experiencing.

At 16, Laurel is just another teenage girl. She has parents who love her in their own quirky ways, a brother who annoys her, a best friend who is there for her through thick an
Melissa (i swim for oceans)
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
Laurel's teenage life was forever changed when she learned that life and living can be changed in a single, fleeting instant. In that moment she goes from the ordinary girl-next-door to the girl who lost her family to a horrific accident caused by the town bad-boy's father. Laurel is forced to navigate her grief while balancing the life she once had, but it begins to slip through the cracks and as her friends drift away, she isn't sure who she can trust anymore. But there's David - David who is ...more
Carina Tai
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
A heartwarming story that lacks finesse and poetic style.

Laurel is introduced as your typical teenage girl: stressed about the upcoming SATs and worried about her prom dress. However, one fateful accident is enough to turn her entire existence wayward. Her entire family is killed in an instant, leaving her alone and hurt beyond repair. But life inevitably moves forward, and now Laurel must embark on a new emotional journey and find the strength to face an uncertain future. Luckily, she doesn't
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle-library
I struggled with this one. I was expecting an emotional tear-jerker, unfortunately I found myself reading a dry, plodding book.

The trouble is that we barely get introduced to Laurel’s family before they are all killed in a car accident. But unlike If I Stay (which this book is unavoidably being compared to), we never get to know them through Laurel as she grieves their deaths. In fact, neither her parents nor her little brother are barely mentioned again.

And that’s the main issue with The Begin
Cheyenne Teska
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
The Beginning of After tells the story of one of the strongest characters I've read about in contemporary YA yet. When Laurel decides to skip on getting ice cream with her family, there's no way she could have known that it would be the last time she'd ever see her parents and little brother alive. Her entire life quickly unravels and she has to rely on herself to be able to put it back together. With a little help from her grandmother, a few friends and even the boy next door, Laurel learns wha ...more
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Castle's debut novel is a breath of fresh air for contemporary fiction lovers like me. I wasn't hooked at first but that quickly changed as I was drawn into Laurel's world and by the end I was in love. Oh and one of the best things about it? It's a standalone. =)

Laurel Meisner never thinks what life would be like without her family until she actually loses them one night in a terrible car accident. What's worse is that the guy who caused the accident is still alive. Laurel doesn't know
A Canadian Girl
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
I’ve always been interested in books dealing with hard subjects like grief, abuse, etc. So when I heard that Jennifer Castle’s The Beginning of After was available on NetGalley, I requested it immediately.

Unfortunately, The Beginning of After wasn’t what I expected. Rather than finding myself in tears, I struggled to finish the book because I felt emotionally detached from the characters. It’s not that the writing was bad, but since Laurel’s family is killed right in the beginning of the novel
Ashley - Book Labyrinth
4.5 stars

First of all, I cannot believe this is a debut. The characters are so strong and the story was so beautiful and engaging. The book examines a lot of interesting issues such as the process of grief, big life changes, and what are our lives are “supposed” to be.

I absolutely adored the main character, Laurel. I found her voice to be so true! All the grief, humour, love, and questioning felt absolutely real. Even though ‘The Beginning of After’ is very different from ‘The Sky is Everywhere’
Jen Halligan
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on my blog, A Book and a Latte. You can read my interview with Jennifer Castle here.

Heart-breaking. Honest. Beautiful.

The Beginning of After follows Laurel’s journey of grief and learning to move on after losing her parents and brother in a tragic car wreck. I was gripped from page one. I lost my mother at the age of 16, and though my story is completely different, I could relate with a lot of the aspects of grief in this novel. The Beginning of After is possibly the best depic
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is depressing.
This book was hard for me to read at times, because I relate so much with the main character. No, I haven't lost my parents...but I have lost an adoring younger brother when he was the age of 16. So, I am older than this character, but a lot of her feelings brought back memories of myself. (I'm not even asking for a pity party with this, I just feel like it's needful for me to say I get this situation)

This book will make you cry.
This book will give you hope.
This book will
La Femme Readers
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Beginning of After is a substantial piece of work for anyone who has experienced a grief stricken loss. While reading this debut, it conjured up buried feelings of my Godmother's death. Normally, I tend to shy away from conversing about her passing, since it hurts too much. However, while going through the movements with Laurel, it helped me connect with the emotions I keep hidden inside. So, thank you Jennifer for giving me the gift to come to terms with a difficult part of my past.

Now, Lau
Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of If I Stay
I would recommend The Beginning of After to those who recently lost someone dear. It was really a book of healing.

I have read reviews on this book and find people saying that nothing happens. It really is not a story with a lot going on. It is a story about growth, loss and life. The interactions between people and even how pets can help with loneliness. The human need to have something or someone to care for. Looking to others for strength and that sometimes moving on is a very slow process wi
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Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her debut, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Libra ...more

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