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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 27, 2013
I am currently in Berlin right now and I am pretty homesick for Canada (going back in 7 days, yay!) Anyways, I went to Dussman's (Germany's equivalent of Chapters) because I always feel at peace and at home in a bookstore. I went into the English bookstore and because they had such a nice sitting area, I figured I would pick a book to read. Not just skim through - READ. I wanted to choose a book that I would most likely never buy. I am not the type to go for books that don't have vampires, fairies, evil governments, aliens, etc (you get the idea) so I thought I'd choose something more realistic. I chose The Beginning of After when I found out it had a Jewish heroine (awesome!)

To my surprise, I actually did enjoy this book quite a bit. Anyways, I felt like this was a very age-appropriate story about grief and recovery. I have read a couple of books where the main character deals with the pain by sleeping around and turning to drugs and alcohol. A little cliche, in my opinion, and I never found that powerful. Laurel is devastated and she makes some mistakes but she doesn't lose sight of who she is. Yes, there is a love triangle, but the romance is not at all graphic, making this story appropriate for younger teens as well. And Laurel was never torn between the two anyways, she knows and we know who she wants in her life, but the boy she wants is not handling his grief nearly as well as she is.

I think Laurel is a good heroine. I liked her. She isn't perfect, but she is good at admitting when she is wrong.

I may end up buying this book. This isn't a book about a heroine suffering from heartache and destroys her life with grief - this is a story about a heroine who stays strong throughout the grief and doesn't let it control her.

CONTENT: one scene of underage drinking, but it isn't heavy drinking. It is frequently implied that David drinks quite a bit and probably does drugs. Sensual content, but nothing graphic.
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on August 30, 2011
The Beginning of After focuses on the process of grief and the steps necessary to piece back together one's life after such a tragic accident. The plot is slow moving, but the writing is rich and reflective. It doesn't read as fast as similar books such as The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, but there is sweetness to the story that warrants the slower pacing. Castle does a great job at showcasing the highs and lows of moving on through believable and likeable characters. Lauren's job at the vet provided an interesting twist and provided more depth as readers see how Lauren's grief works itself out with the animals she cares for. David was a bit of a disappointment and I'm not sure readers will buy his relationship with Laurel. However, this doesn't subtract from the book and those who enjoy "loss" books will enjoy Castle's story.
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