I adore everything Paula writes. She can pull off so many different genres but always manages to tell a wonderfully compelling story. This is How it Happened was no different. I couldn't put it down.
Genevieve's struggle with grief and guilt was so beautifully told. This book covers a lot of important topics but never felt like it had an agenda or read like an issue book. The plot unfolded along with flashbacks of the night of the accident as Gen remembered them in "real time" and it worked really well to support the narrative. Gen was such a complex character and her story had me crying by the end. The depiction of the Internet mob mentality and cyber bullying felt devastatingly accurate - in our modern society we're never really allowed to deal with tragedy on our own terms, and I think this was shown really well. I really loved the setting of Zion National Park and felt like I was able to picture it. Also, the love story was perfectly adorable but never overpowered the story or character development.
I received an ARC from the author, but this did not influence my review in any way.
Genevieve was tired so she asked Dallas her boyfriend to drive her home the next thing she knows she’s in the hospital and Dallas is dead
The book was amazing I fell amazingly in love with Paul’s words. I loved the romance between the boy from the park and Genevieve how it started with being friends. I felt devastated when Dallas died even though Paula didn’t write a lot about him! I especially loved the way how Genevieve parents were divorced and she stayed with her dad’s new wife.
Overall I would rate the book 4 starts since I didn’t like the ending very much
- Plot- or character-driven? Character
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
Moderate: Car accident, Death, and Grief
Minor: Alcoholism and Suicide attempt
Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma with no memory of what happened in the car crash that killed her boyfriend Dallas. Dallas was an up and coming star who had just released his first album and having started his career on YouTube had a huge fan base. Genevieve knows a few minor details, she knows that there was another driver and she also knows that Dallas’s fans all are demanding justice and assuming that the other driver was at fault.
As the virtual world demands justice for Dallas, Brad Freeman, the other driver, has been tried and found guilty on social media, and as Genevieve slowly gets her memories of that night back, she starts to realize that maybe things didn’t exactly happen as everyone thinks.
I really enjoyed the way that Stokes tells this story… among the story itself she weaves in news articles, blog posts and tweets and really entrenches you in how social media and the internet can affect how a story gets told. And while impaired driving and cyberbullying are major themes here, one of the points, I think, was that people sometimes say and do things online that they just don’t realize may have consequences for other people.
In the second half of the book, Gen heads to Utah with her father to get away from the media circus and try to heal both physically and mentally. There she starts working at Zion national park and she slowly starts to mend… but that also means remembering the truth of that night. Stokes does an amazing job of really making friends and family a part of this story and yes, there is even some romance!
I think that Stokes really excels and writing stories that are thought provoking and interesting and relevant. She always has an important message in her stories and I appreciate that Paula stretches her wings a bit and doesn’t necessarily stay in the same lane with each of her books. Everything you read by her is so different than the last thing and I just love it!
If you’re looking for a timely book with interesting characters and a riveting storyline, then this is the read for you!
I bought This Is How It Happened off of Amazon after reading a couple of good reviews about the story and I was intrigued by the blurb. I will say I wasn’t expecting a lot in terms of development because I thought it was a little tropey. I was right to not expect too much, this book was a little too much for me, I saw the twist coming and I have to say that it wasn’t particularly well done. The blurb to me spoke more of a mystery element and this book is not that, not even slightly. I do think a lot of this book feels rushed, and although the message behind it was important the actual plot felt a little simplistic.
I think the characters in This Is How It Happened was an issue in themselves, they were a little two dimensional. I wanted them to be a little more nitty gritty for there to be a little bit more of mystery. I would have loved for Genevieve to be a little bit more of a bad girl rather than the flawless goody two shoes that we were given. I was so underwhelmed with the relationships and the way that they all developed, I just think everything about these characters played it safe. I wanted so much more than what we got from the characters.
I think the best bits of This Is How It Happened definitely have something to do with the setting and how beautiful everything is described as being. I also thought that the way that grief was developed and discussed throughout, I really enjoyed reading about her journey through everything especially as it was surrounding a younger relationship without the commitments of marriage or children. I thought there was a really good arc with the character and how everything ended up, it was a nice surprise and one that I really enjoyed. I think that grief is something that happens in YA a lot but very rarely done well or developed, this book filled that gap for me.
I do think the worst bit about This Is How It Happened was how rushed everything felt. Although I do believe that grief is handled well within the story and plot line I do think that overall the book was rushed. There were definitely places where I had wished that there would be more development and just more about the actual legality of the situation. I just think the reactions to everything weren’t realistic and although they were a huge amount of the drama at the end there weren’t any actual consequences which annoyed me.
I think I would recommend This Is How It Happened purely because of the way that grief is handled throughout this story but I do think there are better books out there for amnesia and they have better endings.
Read more of my reviews at the book blog life
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.
**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.
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