Where It Began

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler 
Pages: 369 
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

My Summary: Gabby has been living a charmed life since her transformation over the summer from quirky artist to blond, perfectly tanned and made-up girlfriend of the most popular guy in school. Everything in her life seems to make sense when Billy's around, and Gabby is doing everything possible to ensure that he stays around.

Until Gabby wakes up in the hospital, face indistinguishable and body broken. All the doctors will tell her is that she was involved in a car crash, and that she is lucky to be alive - but then why does she not remember the night leading up to the crash? And why would she wreck Billy's car? 

As Gabby struggles to put the pieces of her life back together, she discovers what it truly means to put someone else's interests before your own - and just how dangerous that can be.

My Thoughts: This book was a fairly quick read, although the subject matter was anything but light. Gabby's struggles to figure out who was on her side and who was using her read like cautionary tale: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

The characters were extremely realistic, although Gabby herself was a little hard to relate to at times. I did, however, enjoy how much the book made you think - would you cover for someone you loved, even if it could mean ruining your life in the process? And why do we put so much stock into relationships that we know aren't lasting or permanent? I also really liked that Stampler delved into how our parents' issues can sometimes affect how we see the world, and how their issues can become our own if we're not careful. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA.


  1. I like that the parent's are also involved this story. I would not expect otherwise if you read the blurb, but they are often absent and I'm glad they have a role here :)


  2. Great review! I just started reading my ARC for this book yesterday and I'm loving it so far!!! The concept is very unique and quite serious but the author does a fabulous job adding humour and such to keep it entertaining!
    Seattle Limo


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