In a flash, Laurel's life changed from a huge focus on preparing for SATs and thinking about which college to attend to trying to come to grips with how her life has changed. She bottles up her emotions, afraid that if she starts crying she won't be able to stop.
At school it is rumored that one of her "top ten" is going to ask her to prom, but she wonders if it is out of pity. Then there's David, the neighbor's son who similar to Laurel ended up not getting in the car the night of the accident, the "bad boy" who weaves in and out of her life while he also deals with his grief. She also still tries to be a good friend but finds herself in some situations where she is conflicted when deciding what is best. So many emotions swirling around... I was confused right along with Laurel - there weren't clear cut, easy answers in many situations; although, I did cringe each time she would push away emotions relating to her family's deaths.
When I picked up this book I had just finished Left Neglected for adults which deals with a car accident and has incredible voice. Then I started another YA novel that deals with an adolescent coming to grips with a parent's death as a result of a car accident but abandoned it. I rarely, rarely abandon books, but I am finding that it doesn't take as much for me to abandon books anymore. With so many great books in my TBR pile, I don't plod my way through books that I have luke-warm interest in anymore. Clicking open The Beginning of After was like a breath of fresh air. I remember thinking automatically - now this is a book I won't be abandoning. Castle's voice was apparent from the first pages.
Laurel is also a character that I want to know more about. The ending of the book left me satisfied, and it is one solid, stand alone book, but I would be thrilled if Castle eventually decides to revisit Laurel to explore how her life continues as she makes the transition to college.
*Net Galley e-Copy Provided. 2011 Debut Author Challenge 12/12.