Review: Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler
A teen’s world comes crashing down in this compulsively readable YA debut that’s as literary as it is commercial.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.
The premise for WHERE IT BEGAN hooked me from the second I saw it. I am always looking for a good contemporary novel so I couldn’t wait to try this one out. While I loved Gabby’s voice, I did feel a bit underwhelmed with a few things in the novel. I will give Stampler props on not revealing what really happened to Gabby in the first place. It kept me guessing and I couldn’t wait to find out the truth. If you are a fan of contemporary, I would recommend giving WHERE IT BEGAN a shot.
Gabby is one of those protagonist’s that you want to save from her own naivety. She is desperate to keep Billy in her life and as her boyfriend and will go to extremes to make sure he is still hers. I cannot imagine being in Gabby’s frame of mind, but I do think that there are teenage girls who are just like her. Her lost memory of the night she crashed Billy’s car eludes her and I don’t even think she wants to know what happened. With the memory will come things that she doesn’t want to have to acknowledge, no matter how much she needs to.
While I really wanted to discover what happened before the car crash, I did find that the book lags a bit in a few pages. I wish there would have been a little more depth to keep me captivated. Stampler does have a unique writing style, though. I thought the way she started and ended the novel worked and I couldn’t help but breathe a happy sigh when I closed the book.
While WHERE IT BEGAN isn’t complex or completely captivating , it is a good contemporary read that fans of the genre are sure to enjoy.