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by Jennifer Castle


HarperCollins - Summer 2018

What does it really mean to be kind...and why does it sometimes feel so difficult?

High school senior Kendall, who just returned from an epic semester in Europe, and Max, who's drifting his way through a gap year before college, are forced to struggle with these questions when they both witness a tragic accident in New York City a few days after Christmas. Wracked with guilt, the two take a dare to perform meaningful acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a pulsing city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can't deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year's Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

Jennifer Castle's latest novel is a romantic, life-affirming tale of human connection and how we find, and make, our place in the world.

About the author: Jennifer Castle graduated from Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing educational websites for kids and teens. The Beginning of After was her first novel, and it was selected to the 2011 ABC (Association of Booksellers for Children) New Voices list of 10 outstanding Young Adult debuts, plus it was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. She’s also the author of You Look Different in Real Life and What Happens Now. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in New York’s Hudson Valley. www.jennifercastle.com

Praise for Jennifer Castle’s previous work


“A sweet, sensitive romance distinguished by its respect for fandom.” – Kirkus

“Depicts the subtle complexities of familial and romantic relationships with vividness and sensitivity.” – Publishers Weekly

“Castle has created a gripping novel about the aftermath of getting what you have always dreamt of....Captures the feeling of the infinite possibilities that summer holds, while tackling the larger issues that spill into the rest of the year.” – ALA Booklist

“Castle’s latest explores life and relationships with a gentle touch, steady rhythm, and quirky characters who face real issues....This romance between shy teens has wide appeal and happily delivers for those who enjoy works by Sarah Dessen.” – School Library Journal

“A riveting tale of first love, possibilities, and overcoming the demons within. Castle handles the sensitive topics of depression and self-harm with great compassion. She not only describes what Ari is going through in words, she makes you feel her journey and the healing power of love.” – Parent.co

“What Happens Now is the perfect book for a lazy summer day.” – Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

“If you asked me what one book I would recommend to someone looking for the perfect summer read, I would throw this book, What Happens Now, at you. This book was so phenomenal and beautiful. It was quirky and fun but also had meaningful moments.” – Becoming Bookish

“Words can't explain how highly I recommend this book. This is the perfect novel. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it definitely made me sad --- but don't worry, it made me happy again. I am about to share this book with all of my closest friends in the hopes that they can use it to better understand me, themselves, and each other.” – TeenReads.com

“A truly unforgettable story of two broken souls molded to piece their parts together. Its heart-warming romance is crunched by depression, toughened by distance but blossomed with time. What Happens Now is truly an outstanding novel I highly recommend!” – The Bookaholic Blurbs

“Jennifer Castle’s writing is extremely enjoyable and her story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It really put me in the mood for summer and I’m so happy I got to read it!” – Infinite Curio

“Definitely add it to your list of summer reads, or really any time reads. It's a contemporary novel to be read, for sure.” – GReads

“This book is taking a huge step into making others feel like there really is a light in the darkness.” – Here’s To Happy Endings

“Overall, What Happens Now was a really well done book with a painfully real portrayal of depression balanced out by a sweet summer romance. Jennifer Castle hasn't let me down!” – Ink Scratchers

“I loved the characters, who they each were individually and to each other and what they were all dealing with. This very real and authentic story of a teenage girl, her friends, her family, her dreams and desires (and some of theirs, too). All told through Jennifer Castle's fantastic, lovely writing.” – Book Splot

“What Happens Now is a beautiful story. Ari struggles and even though she has so many things to feel bad about she's strong and she tries to make something of every day. Jennifer Castle doesn't only describe Ari's depression with words, her writing made me actually feel what Ari was feeling. I think that's an admirable achievement. It makes the story raw, honest and authentic. The cheerful summer weather and the fun of spending time with friends are good counterparts for the darker elements of the story. The balance is exactly right, it never becomes too much to handle or too heavy.” – With Love For Books

“What makes What Happens Now so memorable is how Castle really nails the delicate balance between typical teenage girl problems and uniquely geeky situations. Highly recommended, and perfect for fun summer reading.” – Very Much Meg


“Although the story is told from Justine’s perspective, her four classmates are equally complex and interesting, with deep personal conflicts. Castle succeeds in providing suspense and drama as each character’s emotional baggage is unpacked on and off the screen.” – Publishers Weekly

“With its implicit commentary on today’s reality-show culture, this provocative novel explores what makes observing strangers fumbling through life so addictively entertaining—and so eye-opening, too.” – The Horn Book

“Anchored beautifully in the real world and on tv, You Look Different In Real Life has much to offer. Exhibiting lifelong friendships and overcoming fears, Castle gives the reader a real adventure. With raw material happening before your eyes, You Look Different In Real Life captures.” – Books with Bite

“The friendships are definitely what makes the book….Sure, there’s a bit of romance, but it’s such a small part of the story it’s almost an afterthought. It’s refreshing, really, to have books where teenagers still think about other things than romance. All in all, You Look Different in Real Life was a really pleasant surprise. I devoured the book quickly and reached the end feeling satisfied with the conclusion.” – The Infinite Curio

“You Look Different in Real Life sounded fun, funny, and believable, which is what drew me to the book. Well, that and the pink hair in the cover—way too cool. Suffice it to say that the book did not disappoint—I fell in love with Justine in a matter of pages, and couldn’t extract myself from the story for sleep or sanity. The realistic nature of the characters and their troubles was completely engrossing, and I was desperate to understand their history—revealed throughout the book—and how their current public appearance would turn out for them.” – Cat’s Thoughts

“You Look Different in Real Life is ultimately a story of self-identification, finding your passion, coming to peace with your past and seeing people beyond their appearences. I really enjoyed piecing together the connection between each five of the teens, who know each other in ways no one else can. In a time when social media is making it increasingly difficult to hide anything from the public eye, this book deserves a spot on your nightstand.” – Teenreads

“With this concept, You Look Different in Real Life could have been clichéd and trite, but it's not. Instead, Castle created a voice for narrator Justine that’s so authentic and memorable that experiencing the documentary through her eyes captivated me from the first pages. She’s snarky, self-deprecating and, well, a bit bitchy. She has complicated relationships with the other members of her family and friendships are sticky, to say the least. She reads like a real teen.” – Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

“In an age where so many teens engage in reality television and social media, You Look Different in Real Life captures the way leading a semi-public life (even just every five years) has deeply affected these teens who aren't always sure if they're acting for the cameras or being themselves. When everyone thinks they know you, how do you know yourself?” – Common Sense, 4 out of 5 stars

“I loved Castle’s writing even more in this book than her first…. I fully, wholeheartedly loved You Look Different in Real Life. This is one I definitely will recommend.” – Chick Loves Lit

“If you’re looking for a book that expertly navigates the complicated world of teenaged-inspired documentaries through witty characters, fast-paced prose, lots of adventure, romance, and unexpected acts of bonding, then you might like this one.” – Confessions of a Book Addict

“After finishing You Look Different in Real Life, I remember just sitting in my bed (never mind that I had work in a few hours), marveling at how truly enthralling of a read this book was. I don't think I've ever loved a stand-alone so completely!...I was particularly impressed with Castle's strong writing - the first chapter in and I already had a grasp on Justine, our narrator, as a character…. Most contemporaries today focus on romance, but this didn't. Instead, it focused on something more vital—identity. I don't think this will be a book that I'll be forgetting anytime soon.” – Defiantly Deviant

“Castle handles each teen’s persona deftly while also showing that none of them are exactly as they appear….[T]he book has lots of great moments like that as well as lots of great character work. The plot is not predictable at all, which I liked…. Great premise and well-developed characters make this a worthy read.” – The Englishist

“What really makes the story feel like a fresh breath of air are the many, many details put into aspects of who these kids are/were. Everything feels completely believable and realistic. We aren’t always given all of the details upfront, but I trusted Castle would carefully lead us to the end of the rainbow where all the answers awaited. There’s not a moment I felt like she, Castle, was providing unsubstantial information; each sentence was flooded with supportive details and full of character-building. Every progression in the story felt natural and made so much sense…. You Look Different in Real Life turned out to be one of the happiest surprises of 2013 for me!” – Rather Be Reading

“I had a blast with this book. It was fun, exciting, emotional, and one of those books I just wanted to keep reading. And keep reading. I was amazed by how quickly I was able to read it. Not because I was racing to finish it, but because I was so engrossed that before I knew it I’d read 60 pages—or more. This is a fantastic book that I would highly recommend.” – Proud Book Nerd

“I am definitely a card carrying member of the Jennifer Castle fan club, y’all. She can rock some awesome characterization.” – The Allure of Books


“Castle expertly guides the narrative through the various stages of grief, refusing to shrink away from even the most difficult areas, where life and death collide...An honest look at grief that is both achingly real and powerfully hopeful.” – Kirkus

“This first novel takes some of its emotional cues from Gayle Forman's breakout novel If I Stay (2009) and will be well received by Sarah Dessen fans...Laurel's grieving process is believable and will resonate with all who have lost someone they love.” – Booklist

“A difficult story well told, Jennifer Castle's debut novel opens a window onto the process of loss, transition and recovery…The touching, insightful story of a young woman struggling to put her life back together after a terrible tragedy.” – Shelf Awareness

“Laurel’s grieving process is depicted with sensitivity and realism...Readers looking for a leisurely though absorbing story of a girl surviving unthinkable loss will find this engrossing.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“It is fascinating to watch these two young people try to make sense of their losses and struggle to figure out how to move on...the journey offers a complex look at the aftermath of a tragedy.” – VOYA

“[T]he detailed writing and smart, realistically cool characters will be appealing to many girls...Offer this to teens who are waiting for the next Sarah Dessen book.” – School Library Journal

“It was incredible! A very character-driven, emotional and wonderfully written story… I know there are a lot of contemporary young adult books that deal with grief and loss, but I can promise you that this book feels nothing like a tired plot line. This is easily as good as—or better than—others like it.” – The Allure of Books

“Jennifer Castle’s The Beginning of After is not to be missed. It’s a beautiful novel of loss and heartbreak… but also of healing and hope.” – Midnight Bloom Reads

“The Beginning of After was an emotional roller coaster on paper. Jennifer Castle's stunning debut novel…is a beautiful and heartfelt read that will have young adult readers crying and clinging to hope right to the very last page.” – Mocha Latte Reads

“The Beginning of After provides excellent insight to the minds and hearts of those that have been touched by loss.” – Hippies, Beauty, and Books. Oh My!

“I liked this book very much. The story is sweet and gentle, heartfelt and real. Laurel's journey through grief is long and difficult.” – Reading Teen

“It isn't often that a book makes me cry. The few that have are those that have heartbreaking conclusions. The Beginning of After had me sobbing right from the start. And not just one time...Wow. What an intense debut novel.” – The Hiding Spot

“It's almost as if Castle has somehow reinvented this plot and these characters through her fantastic story telling ability and has created something entirely different and heartbreaking.” – Miss Remmers’ Review

“With a powerful voice and a rich, hopeful message, The Beginning of After is a story that truly steps out of the mold and into a new realm.” – i swim for oceans

“Castle blew me away with her writing and character development….Great debut!” – Fantastic Book Review

“[The Beginning of After] felt real…It's so much more than just a typical story about loss and grieving. It's a great debut...” – I Want to Read That

“Laurel and David are characters that you will forever hold dearly in your heart. This is one book you don't want to miss out on!” – Miss Literati

“The Beginning of After is a breathtakingly honest and heartfelt story that is sure to pull on your heart strings.” – IB Book Blogging

“This story is not about action, drama, or a fabulous setting; it’s about a girl coming to terms with a horrible tragedy. It’s one of those books you can’t stop thinking about….Jennifer Castle truly created a masterpiece…” – Confessions of a Bookaholic

“The Beginning of After [is] a wonderful contemporary with such an overwhelming sadness to it…” – Hobbitsies

“I really enjoyed reading this book. From the very beginning I was caught up in the story and wanting to know what would happen next with Laurel. Her character is easy to sympathize with…” – Books & Barks

“[L]ike If I Stay, The Beginning of After is a wonderful novel depicting the death of the protagonist’s parents.” – Made of Awesome YA Reviews