Title: Where It Began
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Read via: Teen Book Scene
Gabby Gardiner wakes up in a hospital bed looking like a cautionary ad for drunk driving—and without a single memory of the accident that landed her there. But what she can recall, in frank and sardonic detail, is the year leading up to the crash.
As Gabby describes her transformation from Invisible Girl to Trendy Girl Who Dates Billy Nash (aka Most Desirable Boy Ever), she is left wondering: Why is Billy suddenly distancing himself from her? What do her classmates know that Gabby does not? Who exactly was in the car that night? And why has Gabby been left to take the fall?
As she peels back the layers of her life, Gabby begins to realize that her climb up the status ladder has been as intoxicating as it has been morally complex…and that nothing about her life is what she has imagined it to be.
Let me begin, as I often do, by saying what a brilliant, gorgeous cover this is! The position, the lighting, everything about it is absolutely stunning. Then you read the summary, and this instantly becomes a book that you cannot miss. When the opportunity arose to read this through Teen Book Scene, I absolutely could not pass it up. This was a wonderful book, and I am amazed that this is the author’s debut.
The book opens with a bang. Gabby is in the hospital, with no idea what happened to bring her there. Her situation is heartbreaking, terrifying, and just completely nerve-wracking. As Gabby begins to heal, even we are not sure what happened. It is not even clear if Billy is even alive (unless of course you’ve read the summary). While I felt a great deal of sympathy for Gabby, her disregard for obvious facts in the face of Billy’s “love” was rather irritating. Speaking of Billy…I am definitely not a fan of Billy. He is just full of cowardly lows.
Throughout the book it is hard to not be on the edge of your seat wondering how things are going to turn out. Gabby has everything stacked against her. She is not quite wealthy, her parents are an alcoholic and a social-climber respectively, and her friends are not quite sure what to say to her. I loved the intensity and the fast-pacing of the story. There is so drama, so many lies, and when the truth comes out is absolutely unexpected and everything falls apart.
Overall, I found this to be very impressive, especially considering the fact that this is a debut. It just blows me away, and I cannot wait to read the author’s next book. I would definitely recommend this. Fans of Courtney Summers and Sarah Dessen are sure to enjoy this. An emotional, intriguing story that will keep you reading well into the night.
Overall: 3.7 out of 5