A review by guardianofthebookshelf
This Is How It Happened, by Paula Stokes


Grade: C+
An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: This Is How It Happened surprised me. It definitely hasn't had a lot of buzz, and it also wasn't Paula's original planned 2017 book. But I've enjoyed a few of Paula's past books (Girl Against the Universe is excellent, in case you were wondering), so of course this one was on my TBR list. But ultimately, it did not live up to Paula's other books.
I really enjoyed Genevieve and her inner narrative. While she interacts with plenty of people in the book, she is also alone with her thoughts a lot. I appreciate introspective books, and I love how seeing the beauty of Zion National Park made her second-guess her religious assumptions. I also appreciated how her relationship with her stepmother flourished and how kind Rachael was. I also liked where the plot went with Brad Freeman. I liked how Stokes played with first impressions and truth.
However, one of the book's biggest issues was its pacing. It took over 100 pages for Genevieve to get to her dad's house and the national park, and I assumed that would be where all but a teeny bit of the book was set. The first 1/3 of the book dragged too much as a result. I also felt like Dallas was too two-dimensional. Since he was only in (largely negative) flashback scenes, I didn't really see why he had made such an impact on Genevieve's life, so it didn't feel too fast to me when she started getting involved with Elliott (although I wish that had been slowed down just a teeny bit more). Freeman's daughter really pissed me off, though; she was waaayyyy too mouthy and her parents did nothing to rein her in a bit. Considering she was only thirteen, she definitely should've been reprimanded.
Maybe a dozen s-words? Underage drinking happens (although Genevieve never participates).

The Verdict: Eh, it was okay. Nothing especially remarkable though.