This review contains quotes from the book.
Paula Stokes‘ dark new young adult novel, This is How it Happened, will grip you right from the beginning. In short, Stokes’ latest book is about a girl coming to realize her part in the death of her famous boyfriend, who she learns was killed in a car accident.
“Where’s Dallas?” I ask. He should be here right now.
Mom starts talking about the accident, but her words fade out, because suddenly I start to remember what happened.
—excerpt from Paula Stokes’ This is How it Happened
Genevieve Larsen was driving her boyfriend Dallas’ car when she’s struck by Bradley Freeman, who may or may not have been driving under the influence. When Genevieve starts to gather her thoughts after being in a coma for the five or so days following the accident, she begins to gather that maybe she was to blame for Dallas’ death. It also doesn’t help that Dallas was a popular YouTube star, and was coming off the success of his debut album; the couple was actually driving back from his release party when the event occurred.
Dallas’ fans are upset about his death (which is understandable) but they never really give Genevieve a break about it. So she decides to flee to her father’s house by the Zion National Park. In a failed attempt at running away from her problems, Genevieve knows she cannot escape the accident and how she might have been responsible for her boyfriend’s passing on that fatal day.
“Will do,” I force out, my voice high and unnatural. My heart makes up for those skipped beats by pounding double-time as I disconnect the call. It’s not like anything I said was a lie, but it still feels like I’ve done something wrong. Almost criminal.
Like I’ve crossed a line that I can’t come back from.
—excerpt from Paula Stokes’ This is How it Happened, on Genevieve thinking to herself after talking to Detective Blake about not remembering anything from the accident.
What I like about what Stokes did with her book is that she focused on Genevieve in present-time, but when Genevieve had a flashback, Stokes would write an entire chapter to retell what happened. I like this concept because it gave me a clear picture of what Genevieve and Dallas were doing during the night of the accident. As the reader, you start to piece together what transpired with Genevieve from there, which made this story even more intriguing.
Slowly but surely you will come to find out everything that happened on that night that led to the accident and Dallas’ ill-timed death. Trust me on this, you will not want to put this down once you’ve started it. Stokes does a great job with writing Genevieve as a character and with the slow build-up to her protagonist’s epiphany is an incredibly well-written finish.