Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Where It Began

Title: Where It Began
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Date Released: March 6th, 2012
Pages: 384
Rating: 3 out of 5

Sometimes the end is just the beginning.

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.

Where It Began is basically like a cautionary tale for underage drinking and sketchy boyfriends.  The lesson?  Don't drink and definitely do not date wildly popular and insanely rich guys.  This was Gabby Gardiner's undoing and what wound her up in a hospital waking up totally confused and having absolutely no memory of what happened the night of the car crash that changed her life forever.

Gabby is a sort of rich kid.  She's privileged enough to go to a preppy private school, get a makeover done that will contribute to her life changing car accident, and live in one of the three B's - Bel Air, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills.  However, being a sort of rich kid comes with problems, too.  Her dad's a drunk and her mom's a shopaholic who is pretty much a very superficial person, like Jenna's mom in the TV show awkward. if you've ever seen that show.  Gabby has also been an outcast most of her years at Winston, until she gets her life changing transformation, landing her the most popular guy at school, Billy Nash.

Ann Stampler's debut was an interesting novel.  The beginning was a jumble of thoughts, flipping between the present and the past, which she calls Gabriella Gardiner Presents Scenes from Teen Life in the Three B's.  Eventually she goes home and things start to get... sketchy.  Billy is pretty much MIA and won't talk to her when she finally goes back to school, and she's confused by why everyone pities her even though she's pretty sure she's to blame for the accident.  The beginning of  the novel didn't exactly get me pumped about the novel, the middle got a bit interesting with all the mystery surrounding the pity and Billy, but the ending was what really got me, although a bit too late.  It just captivated me by how twisted and wrong some people are.

In terms of characters, Billy Nash was obviously a jerk.  He's one of those characters that you're supposed to hate, deeply, because he's rich and self-centered.  Gabby was kind of cool, and kind of not.  She was different in that she was artsy and didn't have the money and power that would get her into an Ivy League, like Billy.  However, she still had this sort of fake personality in several instances that I just couldn't stand.

Overall, Where It Began didn't exactly stand out to me.  I loved the conclusion and how everything unraveled in the end, but I can't say that the beginning grabbed my attention and I couldn't really connect or fall in love with the characters.  I will admit thought that it was pretty interesting reading about the rich part of LA.  This novel was Ann Stampler's debut, so I might give her sophomore novel a try.  Another thing about Where It Began.  I would recommend it if you like contemporary novels, but without the cutesy romance.  Personally, I think I'm still finding what I like and dislike in contemporary novels, and ones that deal with issues like these are not my favorites.

Cover Review:
I think the cover is what really drew me into the book.  I loved its simplicity and relaxing vibe with the rainbow reflection from taking the picture on the model's face, kind of like this is an actual photograph.  The simple font also goes with the contemporary genre theme and also stands out with its bold blue color.  I gotta say that I really like this cover!

Cleo :)

*Description and cover from
**Review copy borrowed from local library.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for the review on Where It Began Cleo. You review was detailed enough to reason out why you love the book, or why others should read. Though you gave most part of the story line, you retained the mystery intact enough, to intrigue one to read it.


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