Thursday, July 6, 2017

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes
Release Date - July 11, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching… and judging.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Paula Stokes' newest novel. All I knew going in was that it looked at internet culture. I didn't expect it to be a book that took a hard look at mistakes, forgiveness, and the nature of judgment and internet culture.

Paula Stokes moves with ease between various genres in her writing. Contemporary is where, I feel, her writing style really shines. She creates characters that are so humanly flawed. The characterization in her novels allows the plot to resonate a little more deeply. You feel it more, because you recognize and relate to the characters the plot is happening to.

The internet is a wonderful tool. It allows us easy access to information. It makes daily tasks, like banking, easier. It both educates and entertains. It also serves to bring the entire world closer together. It allows us to interact with people from all over the world, servicing as a bridge that links us together. The internet, however, also has it's negative sides. Every mistake you make is now there for public viewing. Cell phones are able to catch everything and everything can be shared with ease. People can instantly tweet their opinion with little thought to the person on the other end of the message they are sending. This latter aspect is what This Is How It Happened looks at.

We've all seen people rush to judgement before having all the facts regarding something they read online. Information gets shared without verification, and snap judgments are made and acted on. I, myself, am guilty of this. Paula Stokes shows how, in the aftermath of a rising celebrity being killed in a car crash, things can get out of hand. Nobody knows what or who caused the car to crash, but assumptions are made. Vile messages are sent on the internet and things quickly spiral out of control. It's eerily recognizable because we all know this situation is entirely too plausible. We've seen it happen.

The novel hammers home the point that while that you may not think your one message means anything, it could mean everything. You may not even think the person you're tweeting to will see it, but your message could be one of countless that drown the person in hate. It also shows that a hive mind mentality can take over and those messages and judgments can quickly become a swarm. This part of the novel is so incredibly thought provoking and timely. I thought it was well done, and showed the messily grey area that internet culture exists in.

Part of the novel examines how easy it is to send a hurtful message to someone because of the lack of face to face interaction. There is also an element of how unforgiving people can be of genuine mistakes, even when the person shows remorse. The permanence of internet ensures those mistakes follow you forever, even if you make amends. It makes a case for waiting, and reacting once you know all the facts, because you cannot take things back one they are out there. It is easy to assume, but assumptions can be wrong.

This novel, while providing plenty of discussion material for book clubs, also has some great parent/child bonds at its core. Genevieve's parents are not perfect, but their love for her is never in doubt. The heart of this novel is forgiveness and that theme is woven through all of the story arcs within the novel. I predict people will have strong opinions about the various relationships in this book, but I think that fits with what the message the novel is attempting to convey.

Paula Stokes keeps writing fantastic contemporary reads that should definitely be on your radar. This Is How It Happened is a good choice for teen book clubs, or fans of thought provoking reads. It's a novel that asks us to strive for empathy, and to perhaps think before reacting to something; especially online. 


  1. Like I say, if Stokes writes it, I will read it. She always impresses me with her ability to genre hop and still produce great work. I loved this one, and really appreciated the issues she highlighted.


I love comments. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you even more for leaving me a comment.

I have decided to make this an awards free blog. I appreciate the gesture, and love that you thought of my blog, however I simply can't pass them along as required.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...