Merry Christmas!! (And a Book Review.)

Hey, I just wanted to let you guys know that I haven’t gone into a Christmas cookie comatose or anything (though I’m close), because I haven’t posted anything in a few days — In general, this blog is going to be biweekly, with a Wordy Wednesday every (you guessed it!) Wednesday and just a general update-you-on-my-obviously-so-interesting life kind of post every weekend. Every so often, I might do some extra things, but in general that’s how this is going to be. 🙂

In other news, I got some really awesome gifts for Christmas, including a bunch of Glee stuff (it’s my guilty pleasure) and clothes, but also a FOREVER LAZY (which is basically just glorified footie pajamas, minus the feet portion, with socks and a hood and a zipper in the back so you don’t even have to take it off to go to the bathroom) (yes, with all of our modern technology, this was the best we could come up with. Aren’t you proud of society?).

Oh, and I’m sure my mom looked just like this when getting it for me. I’m so positive.

I also got a total pillow. (It works surprisingly well.)

Books I was blessed enough to receive include:

Any opinions on which I should read first?

Now, speaking of books, I wanted to talk about my impressions of the YA realistic fiction novel The Beginning of After, written by Jennifer Castle.

Back a couple months ago, Jennifer did some publicity work with Figment, and I was lucky enough to be one of the people affected by it, meaning that I got a free ARC of the book because one of my stories had similar content to hers and got featured on the website homepage. (Read my story here.)

(ARC picture from Jennifer’s blog.)

The Beginning of After tells the story of Laurel Meisner, a girl who’s pretty much perfectly normal in every way until one night when her neighbor decides to take her parents and younger brother out for dessert after dinner, and they get in a car accident. They never come back. The neighbor’s in a coma, and his wife, Laurel’s parents, and her admittedly sweet younger brother Toby are all dead. Gone. Forever.

This all happens in the first few pages, and then the entire rest of the 425 page book details Laurel’s life after the accident.

As someone who’s experienced grief firsthand — albeit not nearly as horrible as Laurel’s — this story felt especially poignant to me, and I found myself tearing up several times throughout. If you’re quick to reach for the tissue box, you’ll definitely need it while and after reading this one. It touches on all those different questions we’d rather never have to ask: What happens when we’re gone? What happens when our family’s gone, and we’re the only ones left? What happens, what happens, what happens?

I don’t want to give away much of the plot, because the content of The Beginning of After is every bit as interesting as the title, but I do want to say that where a lot of books about teenagers and grief fall flat, this one rings true. Of course there are those moments when it feels a bit fake, a bit forced, but maybe that’s just because that’s how Laurel’s feeling then — she feels fake. She feels forced.

She feels numb.

This book isn’t about death, but rather what happens to those who are left behind in the aftermath. It’s not about grieving, but rather its effects on who we are and who we become because of it.

It’s a story that feels so real, you’ll want to mourn the loss of Laurel’s family right along with her, just because it reminds you how fragile life truly is, and how easily you could lose everything you cherish also.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it an 8.

And now, back onto the happy-cheery-Christmas topic for another couple seconds. 😉 This is basically how my dog Sammy’s Christmas went:

  • Got toy. Liked toy. Chewed on toy.
  • Toy made squeak sound. TOY MUST BE ALIVE!! Must rip toy open and kill it!!!!
  • Toy is open. Toy’s stuffing and squeaker are all over the floor. Toy is dead.
  • Victoriously carry dead toy around for all to see.

It was adorable and frightening at the same time.

So what were some of the things you all got for Christmas? Any funny stories about your friends and families?

Happy birthday Jesus!!!! 😀

~Julia