Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

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.

I think this is a book that readers will either love or hate, mostly because of Gabby. Her voice leaps from the page and we get a good sense of why she does what she does, thinks what she thinks, and feels what she feels. This is most definitely her story, so if you don’t like her then you won’t like the story. Keeping that in mind, here are my thoughts.

I didn't particularly like her. I understood her actions and the motivation behind them, as well as how her family life drove some of that. I just disagreed with them on a fundamental level. If Gabby and I were to meet on the street, we wouldn’t be friends because we are too different. However, I can see teens connecting with her and completely sympathizing with her situation. As a teen, I probably would have loved this book for many reasons.

In other aspects of the story, the pacing could have been a little quicker. The beginning spends a lot of time with her in the hospital dealing with her injuries and her mother’s determination to make her beautiful again. It wasn’t until page 100 or so before I felt like the story had really started moving.

The injuries themselves were done fairly well, which often isn’t the case. She heals a little too quickly, but it's only noticeable when she specifically mentions the passage of time. This isn't often, so it’s easy to overlook. The big reveal at the end, however, is a different story. I didn’t find it especially surprising or believable. From very early on, I could see what was really going on with Billy. I can understand why Gabby didn’t, but it was difficult for me to sympathize with this kind of blind infatuation for so much of the book.

Honestly, this just wasn't my cup of tea, but I think teen girls will identify in a big way.


Kelly Hashway said...

I think it's sometimes tough for adults to relate to teen characters. For me, it's pretty easy. I feel like I'm still very much that teenager, deep inside. I have a WIP that adults aren't relating to, but teens are. The adults don't like my MC, but the teens think she's just like them. I'm trying to decide if I leave her alone because the target audience gets her or if I try to appease the adults too. It's a tough call.

Tabitha Olson said...

Yeah, that's a really tough call. The adults are the gatekeepers, but the audience is the teens. So, ultimately, I think it matters what the teens think.

I can't say for sure whether I would have liked Gabby when I was a teen. I would have sypathized more, that's for sure, but I really don't know if I would have liked her. But I had teen friends who would have loved her.

cleemckenzie said...

THis really ties in with last night's yalichat on voice. Here's an example of voice being so strong that you have to come down on this side of Like or Dislike.

Interesting post.

Midnyte Reader said...

This actually sounds pretty cool. @Kelly-very interesting dilemma you have. I would stay true to your own story and your own character's voice.