Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler
March 6, 2012; Simon Pulse
*I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes the end is just the beginning.
Gabby lived under the radar until her makeover. Way under. But when she started her senior year as a blonder, better-dressed version of herself, she struck gold: Billy Nash believed she was a the flawless girl she was pretending to be. The next eight months with Billy were bliss...Until the night Gabby woke up on the ground next to the remains of his BMW without a single memory of how she got there.
And Billy's nowhere to be found.
All Gabby wants is to make everything perfect again. But getting her life back isn't difficult, it's impossible. Because nothing is the same, and Gabby's beginning to realize she's missed more than a few danger signs along the way.
It's time for Gabby to face the truth, even if it means everything changes.
Especially if it means everything changes.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Have you ever read a book where you wanted to slap the main character? I spent most of Where It Began wanting to hit Gabby upside the head and scream at her, but also to hug her and help her.
Gabby has no memory of crashing her boyfriend's car when she was falling down drunk at a party. No one - her parents, her doctors, the police, her boyfriend, her friends - can pull the events of that evening out of her mind. Which is fine with Gabby. She wants to go back to normal. And normal is being beautiful, popular, and - most importantly - girlfriend to the hottest guy in school.
Gabby is a delusional fool. Anyone with half a brain can see that Billy, her boyfriend, is bad news. It is also obvious that Billy had more to do with the car crash than it appears - neon, blinking red lights obvious. But Gabby is totally oblivious, stuck in the wonder world of obsessive love.
This blind belief and devotion is extraordinarily frustrating. I dreaded reading the next page because I knew that Gabby was going to make another idiotic, self-destructive move all in the name of Billy. While her naivite is the reason why I didn't like the book that much, it is also why I think it distinguishes itself from other contemporary YA. From an objective standpoint, I loved the portrayal of Gabby. Her relationship with Billy is clearly extreme, but I believe it. A newly blossomed swan with very low self esteem is surprised and thrilled that the richest, hottest guy in school likes her. He is so much better than her, so she needs to do whatever it takes to please him. Only in pleasing him and remaining his girlfriend can she be happy. A horrible example to follow, but haven't you seen it happen?
Gabby's mother was a very important secondary character. She was evil. Not in the physically abusive way, but in the lessons she was teaching her daughter. Looks, money, and boys are all that matter. She was just as willing as Gabby to go along with whatever Billy and his family wanted, because it was crucial to keep Gabby in the upper echelon of society. It is easy to understand why Gabby is so screwed up with a mother like her. Luckily, Gabby did have good influences in her pre-popular friends and her psychiatrist. I have hopes that she may be able to grow into a happy person with their help.
Not much about Where It Began is surprising. I didn't predict every turn along the journey, but I knew where the road was going. What made the book interesting to read was the struggles it took Gabby to get to the destination.