This Is How It Happened

This Is How It Happened

by Paula Stokes


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The author of Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. plunges readers into a world where the internet is always watching—and judging—in this compelling story about mistakes, repercussions, and online vigilante justice. Perfect for fans of Sarah Darer Littman’s Backlash or Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything.

After waking up from a coma, Genevieve Grace can’t remember the car crash that killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTuber turned teen music idol. Genevieve knows she was driving, but because of what's been reported in the media, everyone assumes the other driver, Brad Freeman, is guilty. As she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—what if she's the one at fault?

While the internet and social media viciously condemn Brad, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house near Zion National Park to hide from curious classmates and intrusive reporters. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident. And eventually, she will have to come to grips with what happened…and her role in it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062379931
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/11/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 305,890
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Paula Stokes is the author of Hidden Pieces; This Is How It Happened; Girl Against the Universe; Liars, Inc.; and The Art of Lainey. Paula lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find her online at or on Twitter and Instagram @pstokesbooks.

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This Is How It Happened 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
When Genevieve wakes up in a hospital room after a car crash she can't remember what happened. Her boyfriend Dallas was killed. He was on his way to fame and fortune, being a popular singer song writer who just released his first album. The accident is being seen as a crime. Brad, the driver of the other car that was involved, supposedly drank alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Was the accident really Brad's fault though? Genevieve was driving that night, what if she was somehow responsible? She wants to get away from the media attention, the accusations and (false) sympathy. While recovering many miles away with her dad and his new wife her memory slowly returns. What happened on that fatal night? People's aggression towards Brad becomes worse. The abundance of negative social media attention around the accident makes Genevieve nervous. She might be far away from the scene of the accident, but it keeps haunting her and she realizes she can never truly escape the traumatic event. While spending a lot of time outside she has the chance to slowly work through her feelings. Can she accept the consequences of her actions that night and will she be able to find a way to deal with the aftermath? This Is How It Happened is an impressive story. I was blown away by the thought-provoking subject matter. Paula Stokes doesn't spare her main characters. They aren't perfect, they make mistakes and they learn how to deal with difficult circumstances. I loved that about her story. Nothing is black or white and she fabulously explores the grey in between. She's given Genevieve a fantastic multilayered personality. She's introverted, complex and incredibly smart. Because of the accident she's lost someone incredibly dear to her and she has to come to terms with everything that happened that traumatic night. Watching her go through every single stage of the emotional roller coaster she's in moved me to tears. I was captivated from the very first page and couldn't stop reading. Paula Stokes has a terrific engaging writing style. I love how well she understands what her main characters are going through. She describes every single detail of their emotional turmoil in a compelling way and the result is an amazing complete story. This Is How It Happened is a poignant story filled with hope, loss and dreams. It's clear that Paula Stokes puts everything she has to give into her writing, which is something I greatly admire about her books. I highly recommend This Is How It Happened, it's a beautiful story.
KristyP13 More than 1 year ago
A timely story and a must read for all ages. As the blurb tells us, there was a car accident involving three people: Genevieve who ends up in a coma but survives, her passenger Dallas--a teen music sensation--who did not survive, and the other driver--Bradley Freeman--who also survived and is being declared at fault because of his blood alchohol content. Genevieve wants to escape the media circus and some of the pain and loss, so she moves a good distance to live with her father and stepmom (neither of which she is very fond of). At first Genevieve remembers almost nothing from that night. Meanwhile, Freeman is being bullied, basically tried and convicted on social media. The bullying and accusations, as well as loss of employment and financial setbacks, finally take a pretty huge toll on him. He also has at least one family member being harrassed on social media. Genevieve keeps in touch with her best friend, makes a new friend, and develops a much better relationship with her father and stepmother. Also, she starts to remember more about the accident and is faced with decisions and the repercussions of what doing the right thing could mean. And accepting that even if you apologize profusely, you won't always be forgiven. I don't want to say more than that because of spoilers, but this book is well worth the read for teens, parents of teens, or really just anyone.
Shannon_Miz More than 1 year ago
4.5* Oh, this is a lovely gem of a book. Thought provoking and quite full of life lessons, it ended up being an awesome read for me. It started a bit slow, but after awhile, I was definitely all in. So let's check out the good parts first, shall we? -An emotionally powerful yet flawed main character kept me invested. Genevieve was obviously sympathetic at the start of the book, because of course she was. Her damn boyfriend just died in a car accident, who would not like her? But things get... murky along the way. I won't get into it too much for the sake of spoilers (though it wasn't altogether surprising where the story was headed, it also didn't have an effect on my liking of the book), but Genevieve running away certainly didn't endear her to people. That is part of what makes the book so good for me though. The author does a fabulous job of making you feel for Genevieve even in the midst of some decisions that the reader may not agree with. Because honestly, does any of us know how we'd react in her shoes? -Super relevant and timely lessons in cyber bullying. We live in a world where the damn president is bullying people on Twitter, so this could not come at a better time. I loved that the author doesn't present this as a lecture of who is right and who is wrong, but in a very morally gray way. Initially, when people are ranting about the potentially intoxicated driver, no one bats an eye. But is it ever our right to attack someone? Even if we did know all the facts, what makes it okay? These questions are presented a lot throughout the story, and in a really fabulous and heart-wrenching way. -Such incredibly vivid description of the surroundings made the book feel so real and vibrant. When Genevieve goes to Utah, I didn't expect the lovely descriptions that I ended up getting. And when she went to volunteer at Zion... well, because of the author's amazing ability to make the park come to life, it's now on my bucket list. It was honestly an unexpected, but much welcomed surprise in a contemporary novel. And, it made me relate a lot more to Genevieve because I could so intensely picture what she was going through- both emotionally and physically. I dare say all contemporaries I read from here on out will be judged by a higher standard because of the vividness of Ms. Stokes's writing. -Genevieve's relationships were so incredibly authentic feeling. Her parents were flawed too, but it was abundantly clear that they loved her and would be there for her. Her relationships with them were messy at times, but they never wavered in having her best interests at heart. And for her part, Genevieve loved them too. She also had some really great friend relationships along the way, which I was so glad for. And yes, there is a bit of a romance, and I won't lie, I adored it. The only thing that made me give this 4.5 instead of 5 full stars is that it did take me a little bit of time to get into the story. So if you happen to find yourself unsure about it, I urge you to push through a bit more, because for me it was completely worth it! Bottom Line: Lovely, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking, this novel about trying to do the right thing and overcoming difficult obstacles hit me in the feels over and over.
kozbisa More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4.5 stars I confess, I am a Paula Stokes fangirl. I have enjoyed many of her previous books, and have always admired her ability to genre jump and do it well. This time Stokes brings us a contemporary that takes on two important issues, one being online shaming, a topic which really resonated with me. This book begins shortly after Genevieve's boyfriend is killed in a car accident. The police have a suspect, but not the full story, as Genevieve has no memory of the crash. Immediately people flock to social media to share their thoughts. This aspect of the book really hit home for me, because I remember when things like this did NOT happen. Once upon a time, when there was an accident, information would be released to a news outlet and then disseminated to the public. Now, in this digital age, a great deal of information is passed from the man on the street to the world at large. An amateur video, picture, or statement is Tweeted and moves across the earth like wildfire. Details are omitted to fit the author's narrative, and facts are not always verified. People's emotions heighten, and then they wage a war from behind their keyboards. We have seen this happen, and we have seen the results of online vigilante justice. Stokes did a great job capturing the fervor of these exchanges and used these Twitter threads and blog comments thoughtfully and wisely in this book. This book is sort of split into two parts for me: before Genevieve remembers and after Genevieve remembers. As Genevieve begins to heal from the accident, bits and pieces of the events leading up to Dallas' death are revealed. I thought this part was done so well. I could feel Genevieve's fear as she would get these flashes. There was tension and doubt, and I found myself a little nervous as we approached the truth. The after focused on dealing with the fallout. Genevieve was tried in the court of social media, while she was attempting to work though her own pain, grief, and guilt. My heart broke when she would deprive herself any enjoyment, because she had to worry what people she didn't even know would think. I really liked Gen, and admired the strength she showed on so many occasions, even if she did not always make the best decisions. I must mention how much I loved the setting. I have never been to Utah, but now I feel as though I have. Stokes painted it with broad brushstrokes for me, and I can only assumed this is someplace she loves. I had a wonderful time along with Genevieve in the state park, and hope to visit there for real someday. Aside from the beauty of Zion National Park, there were a lot of great things that happened in Utah. Genevieve grew so much during her time there, and not just with respect to the accident. The experience brought her father back into her life, and it made her appreciate her mother a little more. She opened her heart to a new group of people, and she was better for it. Right here and now, I will tell you that Stokes gave Gen a fantastic love interest. I adored Elliot so much! And his dads were fabulous too. I mean an American Ninja Warrior training gym? That's supercool. In the afterword, Stokes thanks us fans for "genre jumping" with her. I will always follow, if Stokes continues to deliver books that are interesting, though provoking, and entertaining to me. I was throughly engrossed in this story, and look forward to more from Stokes.
sarabara081 More than 1 year ago
Genevieve wakes up in the hospital after being involved in a car crash that claims the life of her boyfriend Dallas. The thing is, she has no memory of what caused the accident in the first place. People are saying a drunk driver is responsible but is that really HOW IT HAPPENED? Dallas was an up-and-coming musician with a large fanbase already well established. His death affected more than just his family and friends, but his fans as well. Unfortunately, this led Genevieve to be hounded by the press which made her want to escape as she tried to remember how this all happened and also start to heal both physically and mentally. Her escape comes in the form of spending the summer with her father and stepmother and volunteering at the Zion National Park. Piece by piece memories of that night return and each memory makes Genevieve worry that there was more to the accident than anyone knows and she isn’t sure what to do with what she discovers. I’ve read memory loss stories before but I like how here we don’t have to wait the entire novel to learn the exact circumstances leading up to the accident. The real focus is on what effect the crash had on Genevieve, the other driver, and so many other people connected to them and to Dallas. We dive into some very real issues, like cyber bullying and online shaming. How people can say such horrible things about others while hiding behind their computer, not caring about the impact of their words. And we witness Genevieve go through all these emotions – despair, guilt, shame – as she comes to terms with the loss of her boyfriend and the circumstances around his death. There is so much to love about this book – flawed yet compelling characters you can’t help but to root for, American Ninja Warrior references, the growth of wonderful friendships and family relationships, lessons of forgiveness and second chances, and of course the powerful messages behind it in regards to the cause of the accident and the intense reactions by those affected. This is another great novel by Paula Stokes!
Samantha05 More than 1 year ago
Paula Stokes's latest contemporary examines what it means to be highly connected to social media, what happens when your worst mistake is heard by millions, and facing your past. I love the complex layers to this story, particularly the inclusion of Zion National Park. Stokes masterfully shows how people, especially teens, are connected to nature and the internet (and the pros and cons of both). Genevieve is an excellent protagonist, relatable and realistically flawed. You'll find yourself captured by her story and eager to discover how (and if) Genevieve realizes and owns her mistakes.
Makenna48 More than 1 year ago
I think I need to start this off with talking about what I liked most about this book, which was how much it kept making me feel over and over. I am always weary when books have flashbacks to events because I always seen to feel disconnected from them and from the character, but that wasn't how it was with this book. I cannot believe how much the flashbacks made me care for Dallas, and the fact that I was actually almost crying multiple times because I couldn't accept the fact that he wasn't just in a coma and could possibly come back. Not only were those flashbacks making me emotion, but so were the moments when Gen was afraid. during those moments when she was worried about the backlash of the truth coming out, I kept getting teary eye. Any book that can keep making me emotional over and over again like TIHIH deserves a clap and a half (and for the 99.9% of you who don't get that reference, it's from Game Theory on Youtube, sorry for my gaming nerd side slipping through, I just couldn't resist...) Now for what I didn't like so much... the writing. I just was not a huge fan. During the beginning I noticed a lot of "telling but not showing" which is one of my biggest pet peeves when reading a book although I did not notice it as much after the first third, so it wasn't too bad). Not only did that bug me, but there were a lot of parts where I felt like it didn't flow as well as I would have liked. I am finding it difficult to describe the specifics of why it did not flow well, but it just didn't work well for me. Here's me, being bad once again at ending a review. Honestly, I thought this was a really good book, and while I had my problems with the writing, I am definitely interested in reading Girl Against the Universe to see if that is a problem I will have with all of Paula's books or if maybe it's just this specific one.
KariB More than 1 year ago
Genevieve Grace wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there, and she keeps asking where her boyfriend is. Soon, she finds out that she was in an accident, she had been in a coma, and her boyfriend, Dallas, didn't make it. Genevieve suffered a life threatening brain injury, so she doesn't remember the accident at all. Brad Freeman, the other man in the accident, had been drinking and driving, so it was obviously his fault right? We follow Genevieve in this story as she tries to cope with the accident, the loss of her boyfriend, and her regaining her memories of the accident. She decides to get a much needed break from her surroundings, and she moves from St Louis to her dad's in Utah. While she is volunteering at Zion National Park, she starts to regain her memory and starts to wonder if the accident may have been her fault. The characters were great, the setting was great, the plot was great. I honestly could not give this book as many stars as it deserves because goodreads allows only 5. ALL THE STARS. The family dynamic is fantastic as well. Most of the time, family is a forgotten aspect in YA books, but I love how important family is to multiple characters in this book. This book has such important messages behind it. Some I will not touch on because spoilers, but it really hits home about telling the truth and internet shaming. We all know how easy it is to get involved with news stories online, and we quickly pass judgment. Odds are, the whole story is not being given from whatever news outlet we hear it from, and also, the things that are said can have awful repercussions on others. These are such important things, and Paula Stokes did a fantastic job portraying it realistically and showing the ramifications of these actions. Please read this. It is so good. Paula Stokes was already an "auto buy" author for me, and she is one of my favorites, but now I love her writing even more.
AliLionel More than 1 year ago
Trigger warning: mention of suicide attempt I was excited to read THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED because Paula’s books are always something I enjoy. I thought this book was going to be somewhat of a thriller/mystery based upon the death of Dallas, Genevieve’s boyfriend, but it was so much more than that. THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED follows the aftermath of a car accident involving Genevieve, Dallas, and Brad Freeman, the other driver who is viciously attacked and violently bullied online. It’s undeniable that this book spreads a very important and unavoidable message about online shaming and cyberbullying. Although I felt like the plot was more focused on Genevieve’s escape from her hometown to find solace in her father and stepmother’s town, I did find that the aftermath of the car crash still haunted Genevieve. I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance (what????? Alice, not enjoying romance???), but hear me out. While I understand why Genevieve found comfort in another boy after the death of Dallas, I still feel like I would have liked Genevieve if she had taken more time focusing on the issues at hand—Freeman’s suicide attempt and her underlying guilt. But that’s just me! Everyone grieves differently, and I understand Genevieve’s choices. Overall, I found THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED to be a much darker contemporary, exploring the consequences of impaired driving, online shaming, and cyberbullying—Paula also includes an Author’s Note at the end of the novel, detailing her journey in researching the aspects of this novel. I definitely think this is a book worth discussing and reading. Thank you to HarperTeen & Paula for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I'm such a fan of Paula's words, I don't even read the synopsis anymore. I know I'll always be wowed by what she does. And this was no exception. I really liked Genevieve. She's got a lot of things going on and dealing with a blank memory doesn't help, but she's stronger than she thinks. As things get revealed, it was easy to relate to how Gen reacted. Of course Elliott was adorable and I could have read a million pages of the two of them. Gen's dad is also fantastic. Supportive and positive parents is one of my favorite things to see in YA. Plot wise, I loved the couple of "then" chapters that let things unfold so we got the full story. The social media exchanges were intriguing and heartbreaking because they were similar things that have probably been said about real people who exist. Overall, I feel like this is a story everyone on social media should read. It's easy to feel like your online words don't have a voice because you're just one person, but you never know who is reading them. This is definitely a story I'll be reading again. **Huge thanks to Harper Teen for providing the arc free of charge**