Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (March 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442423218
ISBN-13: 978-1442423213
Series: No
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: This cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love how fresh it semes with the yellow colors and the model's soft features. The glare of the sun on lens near the model's face works well because it sort of represents the damage done. All in all, it just feels fresh like a new morning.
First Sentence: This is how it starts: some hapless girl in a skanky little tank top lying on her back in the wet grass somewhere in Hidden Hill.


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.

Where It Began weaves an emotional tale of healing wrapped in the pleasantly sarcastic voice of Gabby as she relives that last few months of her life leading up to the accident that put her in bed in the first place. Gabby's strong personality and sad home life made it easy to feel for her plight and the re-examination of the things she held dear is interesting as it is entwined with her new life after the accident. I really enjoyed the mixture of the two time lines.

Gabby's one of those girls that really doesn't see how special she is because no one else around her sees it. Her parents are too busy pretending to be rich to care and since she doesn't feel like she excels at anything, she doesn't have a lot of validation accept for when her mother gives her a make over that turns her into the girl her mother always wished she could be. Suddenly, Gabby is sky-rocketed to the new "it" girl and is on the arm of the hottest guy in school. Gabby's charm and whip sharp tongue color her voice as she tells her tale and make for quite a few laughable moments. Her sarcasm covers up for some of her deeper insecurities which changes depending on her mood at the time. Though I'm not sure I'd want her to be my friend, I did love hearing her uncensored thoughts about things.

The other characters were really wonderful too. Gabby's parents were deliciously evil as they flit around trying to figure how to go back to the way they were while still dealing with Gabby's slew of problems. Gabby's mother, in particular, was a wonderfully complex woman. Her simultaneous inner turmoil to fill her own needs while not thinking about anything else wars with her general want to be there for Gabby. And I really felt that her mother did want to help Gabby in her own way. Her dad played less of an active role. Gabby's friends were also great. I loved trying to separate who was really there for her and who wasn't. Huey and his mother were fun characters and I'd have liked to see more of them throughout the story. Even Billy and his mother made the story all the more full.

Being in this world of the uber rich just reminded me how lucky I really am not to have to deal with the superficial crap that so many people have to put up with. Ms Stampler did an excellent job creating a sufficating atmosphere for Gabby so we can see her fall and was masterful at adding in little hints for the reader to catch onto if they looked hard enough. My only two compliants are that sometimes Gabby would lose me in some of her sarcastic rants and I had a hard time figuring out what she was talking about. The other thing, for me, was that this story felt a little too long in the middle. I was happy Gabby had plenty of time to begin healing but I felt like she was stuck too long in the process of figuring out that she needed to heal.

The plot had plenty of surprises along the way to keep me interested. I was truly surprised what was confirmed in Part 2 (I'm not saying it because I don't want to ruin it for you guys!) and was interested to see how Gaby's future would turn out since all signs pointed (too neatly for my taste) to her being the drunk driver. The combination of heresy, dialog, text and ims were a great mix to tell the story in and I loved Gabby's eventual growth. Stampler was masterful at giving us just the right technique at the right time and letting to story form organically.

Where It Began starts at the ending of one thing and the beginning of something new and a whole lot scarier. Gabby is smashed into pieces so that she can rebuild herself if she can just find the energy and drive to do it right. Beautiful writing, complex characters and a heartbreaking situation make Where It Began a wonderful read perfect for all contemporary fans.

Favorite Quotes:
"That's very gooooood!" someone says. I have made the space clones ecstatic.
--Pg. 5 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
You're supposed to go: Everything is freaking swell. Because: if you give the universe the slightest hint that things suck, such as by slouching around being realistic about the fact that your life actually does suck, then the planets will converge in celestial agreement and you'll be locked in astrologically inevitable suckdom forever.
--Pg. 16 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
My face is a table of contents in a how-to book for surgeons.
--Pg. 26 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
There we are in December, about as hot as an egg salad sandwich, or in Anita's case, completely vegan soy wraps.
--Pg. 34 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
Maybe I'd remember better now if I hadn't smashed my head against a tree, greatly reducing my wonderfulness as well as my crowd of fun people.
--Pg. 87 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
It's as if it is Billy's sunset and he's feeding it to me with a big spoon.
--Pg. 99 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
I am prepared to hang over the edge of the balcony above the canyon and send him sappy yet un-clingy smoke signals if that's what it takes.
--Pg. 121 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
I feel like the cheesy heroine trying to find her boyfriend in a crowded railroad station in an old-timey World War II movie, only when Cheesy Heroine sees Dashing Boyfriend, he's already on the train and it's rolling down the track and out of the station and he doesn't even know she is there.
--Pg. 253 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
The point is: I feel like another person when he touches me, and I miss being her.
--Pg. 275 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler
...I am undone by a rhyming sock hop with poodle skirts.
--Pg. 298 of an ARC of "Where It Began" by Ann Redisch Stampler


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Amber! I've seen the cover around, but I never read any reviews until now. Thanks for the awesome review!

  2. Thank you for reviewing this book!

    & I'm a new follower ^^

  3. Awesome review HD. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy. I will have to check it out at some point.
    Great site for Seattle Divorce Lawyer Engle Law Group


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