Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

SUMMARY: Sometimes the end is just the beginning.

Gabby lived under the radar until her makeover. Way under. But when she started her senior year as a blonder, better-dressed version of herself, she struck gold: Billy Nash believed she was a the flawless girl she was pretending to be. The next eight months with Billy were bliss...Until the night Gabby woke up on the ground next to the remains of his BMW without a single memory of how she got there.

And Billy's nowhere to be found.

All Gabby wants is to make everything perfect again. But getting her life back isn't difficult, it's impossible. Because nothing is the same, and Gabby's beginning to realize she's missed more than a few danger signs along the way.

It's time for Gabby to face the truth, even if it means everything changes.

Especially if it means everything changes.


The Short Version:
Though admittedly frustrating at times, but filled with voice and some vivid characters, Where It Began is an interesting tale of relationships, finding the truth, and getting past something huge. Though Gabby borders a little too much on the pathetic side of things for this reader, and some parts of the story seemed too repeated and focused on, her overall character is one that can be understood and related to. Well written with an interesting narrative style, and blending the before and after of the accident, there is a quiet mystery set inside an otherwise coming of age type story.

The Extended Version:
Gabby is the kind of girl who holds on too tight to what she views as the one good thing in her life, and while her obsession and willingness to do anything to keep Billy as her boyfriend is frustrating and kind of pathetic, the reasons she clings to him is easy to understand in light of the full scope of her life. With an essentially absent father, and a mother who is seemingly impossible to please, the clear change in how Gabby feels about herself when she’s with Billy makes it easy to get why she acts the way she does. Still, her refusal to see what is obvious and determination that Billy really does love her gets hard to keep reading after a certain point. Her overall development, however, has a mostly smooth pacing and there is a noticeable change in her by the end of the book.

Though there are several other characters in the book, the focus stays on Gabby throughout, with the others flitting in and out. From her close friends, the ones who her mom thinks aren’t good enough for her ‘status’ to Billy, who seems to be the answer to everything, there is a big range of characters. Billy is a hard character to like, even from the start, easy to see through as a reader. Lisa and Anita are what good friends should be, trying in their own way to help their friend without forcing things to be how they think it should. The overall cast is well done, with great interactions between them.

The plot of this one is simple, without too many subplots weaving through it. This did add to the repetitive feeling of Gabby’s belief that Billy really has her best interest at heart, and her clinging to the perfect ideal of him that seemed to always be on the pages. Still, despite a few lags, there was a steady pacing overall and the lurking mystery of what really happened the night of the crash will keep readers engaged. While the big twist is predictable, it’s still well built into the story.

The writing style is full of voice, and something that is clearly Gabby. With a great blending of scenes from the past with what is happening now, mixed in with Gabby’s recovery, the legal aspect, and what she wants things to get to, there is an interesting narrative style in this one. Very direct in a lot of ways, and with some nicely done descriptions, the writing definitely helps pull this one through.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 384 pages 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 6, 2012

1 comment:

  1. Just as mention, the writing seems to be a strong point for this book even when the plot fails. I am hoping that will be enough for me to enjoy this book as I've seen decidedly mixed reviews.