Laurel was a pretty typical high school student. She's checking out colleges, checking out boys, studying for standardized testing, and sharing every moment possible with her best girlfriend. But that was Before.
The night that her mother, father, and brother Toby venture out to Freezy's for ice cream with Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman -- the night that Laurel decides to go home early to finish her homework, and the night that David Kaufman escapes time spent with the family once again -- everything changes. The Meisner's and the Kaufman's don't even get to Freezy's before the car accident kills all but the driver, Mr. Kaufman. As Laurel and David both struggle in the wake of their grief, they manage to find some peace in each other, though it isn't easy to figure out how to move on from what they've lost. With a bittersweet ending, both Laurel and David make the choices that are best for themselves and each other, and finally, there is hope for After.
Though I'm not sure that The Beginning of After really lived up to all the publisher/consumer hype, I can't help but rank it right up there with the Sarah Dessen's, Elizabeth Scott's, Sara Zarr's and on the shelves. Recommended to all high school girls, even those who might be a little bit afraid to cry.
Reviewed by kate the librarian.