I first heard of The Beginning of After during Epic Reads tea time, when Aubry gushed about this book and said she was a tearful mess while reading it. Since it's the summer of standalones, and I love a good messy cry book (*ahem* Second Chance Summer and The Fault in Our Stars), I had a feeling that I would love this book.
And I liked it. But just liked it. Perhaps it was my high expectations again? I don't know. I think my main issue with the book is that the protagonist is really difficult to connect with. She's going through an extremely emotional time, having just lost her entire family in a car crash, and dealing with her own guilt that she had stayed home that evening to study for her SATs instead of going out with her family. Yet, despite the heavy emotional plot, there was something about Laurel's character that I just couldn't identify with. Sure, there were moments where she described missing her family, and I thought, "Wow, that's sad," but it was like having an emotional reaction to the book from a distance, rather than tears streaming down my cheeks and crying along with the character. Laurel just didn't quite do it for me.
On the whole though, Jennifer Castle is a good writer and she tells a good story. This is her debut novel, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll come up with next!