Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where It Began

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Author's Website:
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)
Released: March 6, 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Library
Challenge: 2012 Debut Author Challenge

Gabby wakes up with no memory of how she got into a hospital bed with alien doctors and nurses hovering over her. She clearly remembers her transformation junior year from invisible Gabby of Winston School to flawless, gorgeous Gabby, Billy Nash's not-unpopular girlfriend. But she's desperate to get that flawless life back - Billy isn't calling and her new life seems to have disappeared. And everything is just falling to pieces around her. So Gabby has to figure out what went wrong, and where it all began.
When I posted this book as part of an In My Mailbox, someone commented on the gorgeous cover. I think it's a real ironic twist that the girl on the cover has a gorgeous, flawless face, when for the entire length of the book, Gabby is dealing with covering up the scars and discoloration from the crash. But it speaks to the whole theme of the story, and in this case, the cover speaks volumes about the book itself.

As for the inside - it's amazing!! Gabby's voice is just confused enough to draw you in to feel sorry for her, but just strong enough to have you cheering for her when she finally takes control. It's interesting that for most of the book, she's actually behaving quite despicably, especially to the few people she can count as real friends, but as a reader, you still ache for her and want things to work out for her. Even though she makes plenty of mistakes of her own, she's mostly a victim, a clueless victim, first of her mother's ridiculous ideas of acceptance and then of everyone else.

I love the time element of the storytelling, the way Gabby goes back and forth between narrating what is happening now and what happened in the past. And I love that it's all in the present tense, which heightens the effect that it's all mixed up for Gabby, that she's experiencing it all at once as she tries to make sense of what's going on. Ann Stampler's writing style is so understated but so sharp, so incisive. Every word counts and packs a punch.

And speaking of packing a punch - I abso-tota-lutely love the last sentence! No, don't flip ahead and read it, it has to come after reading the entire book. It's just the perfect wrap-up to Gabby's story. It shows Gabby's growth, what she learned from this whole experience - and it says it in one line. The last chapter is a nice resolution, showing where she ended up, after she figured out where it began, but that last line is really all that's necessary to tie up the story and finish it off.

I loved this book so much that as soon as I finished it, I went back and flipped through it, rereading bits and pieces of it. It's definitely, as Jenny Han is quoted on the cover as saying, "unputdownable!"

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