The Beginning of After, by Jennifer Castle
Laurel never dreamed that walking home from dinner at her neighbor’s and choosing homework over ice cream would save her life. Laurel’s parents, brother, and neighbors head off for dessert, leaving Laurel and the neighbor’s son, David, to their own plans. They never make it home. Laurel must now handle losing her entire family to a car accident David’s father seems to have caused, and cope with the survivor’s guilt she feels.
Beginning of After tells the story of Laurel’s first year without her family. She completes the end of her junior year, takes her SATs, goes to prom with Joe, the Brian Krakow to David’s Jordan Catalano (My So-Called Life reference – I just couldn’t shake this comparison throughout the entire book), gets a summer job, and starts senior year all while trying not to break down. And she does break down, occasionally at the most inopportune times.
Laurel’s relationships with friends, her grandmother (who comes to live with her), counselor, therapist, Joe, and with David are all woven into a wonderful story of her life after loss. At times it is tragic and moving, and others uplifting and exciting. Ms. Castle takes you along on Laurel’s journey and every emotion Laurel feels and reaction she has is earned and realistic.
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