Where It Began

( 18 )

Overview

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 ...

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Where It Began

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the beginning of this strong YA debut from picture-book author Stampler (The Rooster Prince of Breslov), high school senior Gabby wakes up in the hospital with a spotty memory and a battered body. Memories of her recent transformation from a “sub-regular girl with nothing going for her” to an it-girl, becoming the girlfriend of ultrapopular student Billy Nash, are crystal clear, but the details of the car accident that landed her in the hospital have been lost. Gabby apparently crashed Billy’s car while drunk, and Billy must pretend to sever their relationship to avoid violating his probation. It’s evident that there is more to the story, but Gabby refuses to see any red flags. Stampler’s story of a girl’s obsession with a guy at the expense of all else is powerful, and Gabby’s alcohol problem, her devotion to Billy, and her overall denial are entirely believable. Gabby’s sardonic voice will draw readers into the story immediately, as Stampler delivers a searing portrayal of power, privilege, and betrayal in the hills above Los Angeles. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.) ¦
From the Publisher
"A terrific read! Ann Stampler puts you in Gabby's head and keeps you there until the gripping conclusion. A writer to watch!"
—Alex Flinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beastly

“Unputdownable!”
–Jenny Han, bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty

"The relentlessly wry and sarcastic tone of this first-person yarn instantly grabs readers’ interest and propels the story forward. Stampler paints a ruthless portrait of wealthy Los Angeles, but she finds the occasional human being there too. Readers will find much cynicism but also humor and insight into a corrupt system not necessarily confined to the rich. Clever and constantly interesting, this is as much a winner as Gabby.” –Kirkus Reviews

"Gabby is a witty and sarcastic narrator, nailing the superficiality of her exclusive high school and wealthy friends... [Readers] will eagerly anticipate the accident’s entire truth revealed, especially through its surprising and gratifying ending." —VOYA

"Stampler’s story of a girl’s obsession with a guy at the expense of all else is powerful, and Gabby’s alcohol problem, her devotion to Billy, and her overall denial are entirely believable. Gabby’s sardonic voice will draw readers into the story immediately, as Stampler delivers a searing portrayal of power, privilege, and betrayal in the hills above Los Angeles." —Publishers Weekly

"Gabby’s voice is bitter and cynical, yet compelling and heartbreaking. [R]eaders will cheer for her when she finally recognizes her own worth." bookpage.com

VOYA - Lisa A. Hazlett
Awakening in the hospital, Gabby learns she apparently stole and totaled her boyfriend's car, her drunkenness causing the horrendous crash in which she was found alone, holding the keys. Retrograde amnesia erased all memory of the accident's circumstances. Gabby's main concern, however, is her suddenly absentee boyfriend, Billy, her exclusive school's golden boy habitually on probation, rather than her extensive injuries. Gabby immediately contacts Billy, whose ardor has cooled. He slyly specifies instructions regarding her behavior during upcoming legalities, and tells her that her circumstances are detrimental to their being a public couple, but Gabby only hears they are still together. Gabby's classmates speak of the accident cryptically, assuming she knows its details. Although her sole concern remains Billy, Gabby slowly realizes the accident's specifics sound nothing like her character, and Gabby's dependence upon Billy ends dramatically in an unexpected and daring way. Gabby is a witty and sarcastic narrator, nailing the superficiality of her exclusive high school and wealthy friends. Her utter dependence upon Billy is cringe-worthy, realistic within the context of her parents' inattention, but somewhat at odds with her sharp narration. The novel's cover implies a darker mystery/suspense, but readers will quickly guess Billy was driving with the injured Gabby left to assume blame because of his probation. Still, females will eagerly anticipate the accident's entire truth revealed, especially through its surprising and gratifying ending. Reviewer: Lisa A. Hazlett
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Gabby wakes up in a hospital and bit by bit begins to understand that she has been in a near-fatal car accident that has left her face disfigured. Her story alternates between her present situation and her memories, which, as they return, paint a picture of her financially insecure family struggling to maintain their social standing in wealthy Bel Air. Gabby goes to an elite private school, but no one really notices her until her social-climbing mother forces a makeover on the teen the summer before her junior year. With new hair extensions and push-up bras, Gabby catches the eye of Billy Nash, a hot bad boy who enjoys violating the terms of his probation and considers Gabby "firm young flesh." At this point in the story, the end of this disastrous relationship is predictable, but it takes more than 300 pages for insecure Gabby to learn the truth about that fateful night, and, once that happens, there are no dynamic changes. She remains willing to accept criminal charges for drinking and driving, but finally Billy is exposed and he simply disappears. Gabby runs off to Europe to study art, and she counts the days until she can drink wine with dinner and get her hands on a hot architecture student. It's hard to imagine readers sticking with this story to the end; smart readers will become bored, and less-insightful readers will give up as soon as the meetings with Gabby's lawyer begin.—Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A poor little not-quite-so-rich girl tries to keep her privileged boyfriend after a car accident that can get them both into serious legal trouble in this acerbic take on the phoniness of Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills. The relentlessly wry and sarcastic tone of this first-person yarn instantly grabs readers' interest and propels the story forward. Gabby has learned survival skills growing up among the super-wealthy. The story begins with Gabby in the hospital, recovering from a car accident she can't remember. It seems, judging by the keys found in her hand, that she stole her boyfriend's BMW and crashed it into a tree. Gabby's only concern is saving her relationship with Billy, her richer-than-rich boyfriend, against the wishes of his aggressive lawyer mother. Whatever Billy wants, Gabby willingly does, as she shrewdly trims her behavior according to her finely tuned instincts that keep him involved with her. When an actual friend finally proves the truth to her, she still feels trapped in a system that rewards only the power of money. Stampler paints a ruthless portrait of wealthy Los Angeles, but she finds the occasional human being there too. Readers will find much cynicism but also humor and insight into a corrupt system not necessarily confined to the rich. Clever and constantly interesting, this is as much a winner as Gabby. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442423220
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 2/19/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 369
  • Sales rank: 163,019
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Redisch Stampler makes her YA debut with Where It Began. She is the author of several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov, which have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 25, 2012

    How far would you go to cover for a friend? Would you allow you

    How far would you go to cover for a friend? Would you allow your reputation to be torn to tatters? Gabby is the main character of this book. She doesn’t make the best choices, she is a fairly good student, and she has a boyfriend and friends. Overall, Gabby is a normal, everyday teenage girl. One wouldn’t think that underage drinking, suspensions from school, therapy sessions, etc… could happen to a normal, everyday girl.

    One bad decision can lead to a lifetime of regret. For Gabby, this slightly clichéd statement turns out to be true. She is left with only her most loyal friends, her supposed boyfriend can only talk to her in secret, and her mother doesn’t appear to believe a word she says. Gabby is a sympathetic character, the reader will be rooting for her throughout the novel. Gabby can be a little hardheaded, but she is also loyal to a fault, honest for the most part, and likable. The secondary characters in the book will affect different readers in different ways. Some of the secondary characters are in the wrong place at the wrong time, others simply make bad decisions, while still others seem to only manipulate the ones they call friends.

    The book was a page-turner; a reader will likely finish this sordid story in less than a few days. The plot is memorable, the characters are hard to forget, and the ending is unexpected. This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers, especially those who enjoy Gossip Girl and/or Pretty Little Liars.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    A great book. I LOVED it! Kept me turning the pages.

    A great book. I LOVED it! Kept me turning the pages.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    I had very high hopes for this book, and maybe that's why it fel

    I had very high hopes for this book, and maybe that's why it fell short for me. To put it simply the book, for me, was boring. I found Gabby going on about the same old things over and over. The beginning was good, the ending was good, but for the largest portion, the book fell flat. Which was a bummer because to me "When it Began" could have been a showstopper.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    the book :where it began

    i think this book is great

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  • Posted April 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book was awful. I expected more from it to be honest. Gabby

    This book was awful. I expected more from it to be honest. Gabby I feel does not have much of a personality. Her whole relationship with Billy does not seem real. I do not like the way the book is written in first person, as if you are reading her thoughts, because she has a very bland personality. The only thing she cares about is being a shell of a perfect looking human being that Billy will date. Billy is a jerk and only starts to like her when her mom forces her to get a transformation. His first conversation with her, he stared at her boobs the whole time. Gabby's thoughts are really just an endless loop of Billy, like everything she does is just him all the time. One of the most unrealistic things I've ever read. I could not keep reading after around page 50 when I gave up. Every aspect of it is superficial, easily seen through and unrealistic. Gabby is not a normal teenage girl whose life was torn to shreds: she was never "normal" to begin with. There are more car accident books like this out there, for example Forget You by Jennifer Echols, go read those instead. This book is not worth your time. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    #3 needs to shut the fuck up this book is so romantic

    # 3 you dont get it because youre an ass and dont understamd and youre heart is cold and selfish haha what a wanna-be LOSER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This book deserves a five star

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Great read

    This book was an interesting and original read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 23, 2012

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    Posted August 27, 2013

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