Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mini Reviews # 13

My Mini Reviews #13 post is dedicated to three YA contemporary novels published in 2011 and 2012. THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, THERE YOU'LL FIND ME and SPEECHLESS are stories about teens who have to cope with death and mistakes they made in the past.

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Laurel and her neighbour David are connected by the same tragic fate. She lost her parents and brother in a car crash. David lost his mother in the same accident, his father lives and is comatose, but he is the one who caused it. The moment their families are broken apart separates the before from the after.
Laurel and David are both very young when they lose their families. Imagine the sadness and loss they are burdened with now. THE BEGINNING OF AFTER is about the person you were in a past life and the person you can become in the future. What does it take for your life to change radically?
Jennifer Castle drew a realistic and touching portrait of the different ways to cope with your loss and the different ways of grieving. THE BEGINNING OF AFTER had me crying after only a few pages into the story and I felt just as affected as Laurel learning about her parents' death.
Laurel and David are distancing themselves from each other, searching the other's company, grieving, remembering, hurting, learning to love again together. Their love story is a product of their mutual grieving process and can be described as impulsive, intuitive and rather subtle.

4/5 **** THE BEGINNING OF AFTER – This pensive portrait of teenagers grieving the death of their own families will take you on a journey through a wide spectrum of emotions.

THE BEGINNING OF AFTER is a quiet and raw portrait of grieving and learning to live again. It realistically pictures how one single moment can affect people in many different ways. Jennifer Castle's writing is hopeful and promising and I'll make sure to pick up a copy of her next book, YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE, soon.

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: September 6th 2011
Length: 432 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, death, loss, romance, friendship
Source: Netgalley
Author's Homepage

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Finley is heart-broken over the loss of her older brother Will. To find a way to feel close to him and somehow survive without him, she decides to board a plane and study in Ireland. The country Will loved, the country he felt close to God. His travel journal and her musical practices for an interview at the Manhattan music conservatory should help her to feel inspired and whole again. But they don't. Finley doesn't know it yet, but it will be the popular Hollywood movie star Beckett Rush, she coincidentally meets on the plane to Ireland, who will be the greatest help on her way to finding her own voice in life and a bond to God.
Finley becomes Beckett's assistant in exchange for a guided tour through the sights of the green island.
Philosophical and religious reflections are a great part of Finley's life. Usually stories strongly influenced by musical and religious aspects aren't my thing, but Finley's story was very exquisite and unostentatious. Ireland serves as the vibrant and rurally beautiful background to Finley and Beckett's love story. The various sights of the green isle awaiting to be explored by the two hold many wonders and magic. In particular they seem to know how to bring two teens together who haven't been truly happy in a long time and give them the power to change their lives out of their own strength and the innocent and loving feelings for each other.

4/5 **** THERE YOU'LL FIND ME – An inspirited story about the incomprehensible ways of life, a tender love story and finding to God again.

THERE YOU'LL FIND ME first didn't appear to be one of the stories that usually appeal to me. Surprisingly Finley's story spoke to me even before she arrived in Ireland, but once she'd set foot on the green island and her love story with Beckett was in full swing nothing could've kept me away from my copy of THERE YOU'LL FIND ME.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers 
Publishing Date: October 4th 2011
Length: 314 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, Ireland, religion
Source: Netgalley
Author's Homepage

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Chelsea Knot has gone too far. She was known to be a gossiper and prattler. Until one day when her thoughtless behaviour nearly gets someone killed and she decides to take a vow of silence to find back to her old self again.
SPEECHLESS is a story showing that recklessness and thoughtlessness of social groups of teenagers can affect and even ruin the life of other teens. One day you are trying to make a good impression on your so-called friends and the next you see that the things you thought to be important suddently feel like trivial nonense.
Chelsea's vow of silence is unexpected and radical. Others might think her decision ridiculous and unnecessary, what's done is done. But Chelsea doesn't recognize herself anymore. The vow of silence is the best decision she's ever made. Being silent is so very hard for a communicative person like Chelsea. She is a character with a high growth-potential. It's her choice to change her life, to be more responsive for people's feelings and to make sure to treat them with the respect and kindess they deserve. Her story is very reflective about her past social life and the mistakes she's made and she's more than willing to learn from past mistakes. So she very much deserves a chance at new love, too. With a new boy she meets, Noah. Noah and her love story is more slow and thought-through than Chelsea's previous actions. Chelsea is careful and considerate now. Before she can give him her heart, she wants to be absolutely sure she's a girl worth being loved and who can give as much honesty and love in return without hurting anyone in the process.

5/5 ***** SPEECHLESS – An efficacious and incorruptible story about a telling vow of silence with social and personal relevance.

Chelsea Knot is probably one YA character with the smallest share of words, but one with the greatest inner developments. Hannah Harrington's writing was as flawless as in her debut novel SAVING JUNE. Her stories are relevant for teens, encouraging them to show incentive to change and think about their own ways of treating other people.

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: August 28th 2012
Length: 288 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, vow of silence, friendship
Source: Netgalley
Author's Homepage



  1. Oh, I love books that make me cry. Need to get The Beginning of After. It has been on my wishlist for so long :D

  2. I'm still intrigued by the cover from Speechless, so different from any other cover I've seen. It sounds very interesting!


  3. Of these I've only read The Beginning of After - and I read it when it first released to it's not fresh in my mind, but I remember it wasn't really a favourite of mine. You Look Different in Real Life is a good read - I enjoyed that one. Speechless sounds pretty great!

  4. I loved Speechless too! I was not, however, a fan of The Beginning of After. The grief aspect just didn't feel believable to me.

  5. Aw, awesome reviews :) I really loved Speechless too. <3 Think The Beginning of After sounds awesome :) Glad you enjoyed these books :D