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This Is How It Happened

Review

This Is How It Happened

From the author of GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE, THE ART OF LAINEY and LIARS INC comes Paula Stokes’ latest captivating novel, THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED. This breathtaking novel will blow readers away as they follow Genevieve, a girl who has just awoken from a coma and is faced with the idea that she may have caused the car accident that killed her boyfriend.

Genevieve Grace has no memory of the night that she and her YouTube popstar of a boyfriend, Dallas, were in a car accident. All she knows is that she was driving, Dallas is dead and another driver has been blamed.

"Stokes’ superb writing will lure readers into this memorable novel that is perfect for those looking for a contemporary book with a dazzling setting, complex relationships and a plot that touches on some serious issues."

As the other driver is harassed online and condemned to a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve begins to piece together her memories of that night and comes to the realization that the accident might just have been her fault. Unsure about what actually happened, Genevieve flees across the country to spend the summer with her father in Utah, where she can spend her days volunteering in the beautiful Zion National Park, away from nosy reporters. It seems like a nice distraction at first, but Genevieve quickly realizes that she can’t run from what she left behind. Eventually, she has to face the truth --- and consequences --- of what really happened that night.

THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED is truly one of the most meaningful and realistic novels that I have ever read. Stokes crafts such a powerful story with an even more powerful message and approaches some serious topics --- such as cyberbullying and impaired driving --- with a beautiful ease. Her blunt and honest writing style was so refreshing to read, and I definitely plan on reading more of her novels in the future simply for that.

This novel has a major social media aspect to it, which I really enjoyed seeing. Readers get the chance to read through various news articles, comment sections and tweets --- all relating to Genevieve and the other driver involved in the accident. Stokes was able to accurately capture the rabid, raging side of social media. Throughout the story, the other driver is ruthlessly attacked online, and social media jumps to the conclusion that he is guilty without a bit of evidence while Genevieve is praised and treated like an angel. Stokes creates a brilliant message about how every post on social media has the ability to actually affect --- and even ruin --- someone’s life.

Going into this novel, I wasn’t sure how well I would like Genevieve due to the idea that she may have done some shady things; however, I adored her character. She becomes stuck in a pretty messed up situation, but she remains intelligent, brave and honest throughout the entire novel. She also experiences a major period of growth, and I loved how by the end of the novel, she was able to learn a lot and find herself.  

Additionally, I really liked how well written Genevieve’s family was and how Stokes didn’t shy away from letting them become pretty involved in the plot. Genevieve’s family dynamics are a bit complicated due to the fact that her dad left her mom a few years back for another woman, whom he has now married. As Genevieve moves to Utah to live with her father and step-mom, I found it heart-warming to see them repair their relationship. It was super nice to see a family come together and fix their relationship rather than become even more distant like in most young adult novels.

The most unexpected thing to me about this novel was how much I loved the setting. The majority of THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED is set in the absolutely gorgeous Zion National Park. Throughout the novel, the characters visit actual places within the park, and I found myself Googling every single place, which made the book even more enjoyable and realistic than it already was. Stokes’ utilization of the park as a place for Genevieve to find herself was clever and I cannot stress how enchanted I was by it all.

Stokes’ superb writing will lure readers into this memorable novel that is perfect for those looking for a contemporary book with a dazzling setting, complex relationships and a plot that touches on some serious issues. THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED is such a memorable novel with a significant message that I would highly recommend to everyone.

Reviewed by Makayla H., Teen Board Member on July 28, 2017

This Is How It Happened
by Paula Stokes