Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

This is a sad story, but very well written and the ending showed the characters came to terms with what happened and found a way to accept the past events.

Laurel is a very academic driven student. She made a bet with her father that for every point she gets after 700 on each of her tests of her SATs, she'll get a dollar. Getting good grades to get into a top notch school like Yale has always been in her mindset, so when he family and the Kaufman's get together for dinner, then go out for ice cream, she decides to walk home to study some more for the SATs.

Later that night, though, a police officer is at her door telling her that her mother, father, and younger brother, along with Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman were in a car accident. Everyone died on impact except for Mr. Kaufman, who was driving the vehicle.

After that, Laurel's life was turned upside down. She was alone and her grandmother came to live with Laurel, to be with her during this crisis. In a sense, though, Laurel wasn't exactly alone. David Kaufman, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman, also didn't go out for ice cream, so he found out that his mother died and his father was in a coma at the hospital, stable, but not responding to any tests.

Throughout the novel, Laurel tries to come to terms with what happened. She gets the pity treatment from her teachers and classmates; the awkward silence with a boy who likes her but is always walking on eggshells around Laurel; and starts to keep secrets from her best friend, Meg, because she's not sure how to tell her things anymore.

During all of these changes in Laurel's life, though, she finds some comfort around David. He knows what she's going through, and even though he's MIA for most of the book, when they do converse and see one another, there's this knowing between the two of them that Laurel can't feel with anyone else.

This was a really great book. Jennifer Castle, I think, did a really great job putting into words what one would think, feel, and react in a situation of losing one's family. It's heartbreaking, lonely, and hatred, all wrapped up together that can't be released for fear of side effects. I would recommend this book to everyone, just because it is so beautifully written and narrated. I wouldn't recommend it if someone wanted a happy, cheerful book, but this is definitely something that everyone should read at one point or another in their life.

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