Release Date: September 6, 2011
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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.
Laurel is trying to come to terms with the death of her family. Her neighbour David lost his mother in same accident and his own father may be the one to blame.
I'm not usually immediately drawn to realistic fiction as often as other genres, but this book's premise gripped me. Laurel is a relatable character. She's a great student and the type of person that does the right thing. Her well-being became important to me and that drew me into the story. It was while she was being a great student and decided to do her homework instead of going with her family that keeps her wandering if she could of changed what happened. Now everybody is tip-toeing around her – hoping not to say the wrong thing while she tries to comes to terms with the death of her family on top of the unclear cause of the accident.
I found the story completely engrossing from beginning to end. One of my favourite parts is the ending. A story like Laurel's can't be wrapped up and tied in a neat and unrealistic bow. It's the reason I'm sometimes hesitate to read realistic fiction, but The Beginning of After left me with the very real feeling of hope. Another part that I enjoyed was how the relationship between Laurel and David developed unusually and slowly instead of that instant love that I do enjoy at times, but has become too much of the norm in books. It left me anticipating every interaction between them and wondering if something would ever happen instead of knowing before I'm even halfway through the book.
The Beginning of After is a detailed and beautifully written emotional story. It will leave you thinking and caring about the characters long after you've finished.