This Is How It Happened

Image result for this is how it happenedFirst Lines: When I open my eyes, my first thought is that I’m underwater.  Everything is bright and out of focus.  My instincts tell me I need to breathe, but I’m afraid that if I try to inhale the water will rush into my throat and I’ll drown.

This is a book I also just happened to pick up at my library because it sounded interesting.  (I rarely pick up books I’ve never heard of before, so picking up two on the same day?  Weird.)  But it sounded interesting.

Genevieve can’t remember the car crash that killed her boyfriend, a YouTube star turned recording artist.  After being in a coma for days, all Genevieve knows is that she was in the accident too, as well as another driver Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty.  But as Genevieve begins to remember what happened, she starts to suspect she may be more to blame than Brad.  As social media crucifies Brad online, Gen escapes to her father’s home near Zion National Park to escape the reporters and recover.  But it doesn’t take her long to realize there are some things she can’t run from.

This was an incredibly poignant look at so many important issues. Genevieve doesn’t remember how the accident that killed her boyfriend occurred. After being in a coma for nearly a week herself, it’s just going to take time. But around her, she starts to see the fallout from the crash–in the form of the other driver’s epic downfall.

This was such an awesome and heartfelt look at the downsides of cyberbully–and not in a way that we usually look at it, necessarily. This isn’t directly targeting someone from school and tearing them down. This is the cyberbullying we’re all familiar with, the posting of negative comments online where you assume that your target will never see your comments. It’s the stuff we post at the bottom of articles about how stupid this person is, how this incident would never have happened if this or that had happened. It’s the stuff we don’t think is going to hurt anyone.

But it does. And this story shows just how much power those words have.

Gen is a sweet good girl with her whole future planned out. Being caught in the middle of this scandal is the last thing she expected or knows how to handle. And as her memory starts to come back (which isn’t dragged out the way it is in many other novels), she struggles with speaking up about what she remembers when she knows the trolls are going to have a heyday.

There’s a sweet group of characters with all of their own strengths and weaknesses. I won’t go into details because there are too many to talk about, but it was really moving to see how they stood by Gen. As someone who has a very similar personality type to Gen, this was especially poignant.  But it was great to see character development not just from Gen, but from those around her as well.  These characters were all beautifully written and unique.

Lots of great themes in this book. It was very touching.  This is why I read YA.  There’s just something magical about it that “regular” fiction “for adults” lacks.  It’s hopeful.  It’s powerful, in a simple way.  It’s honest.

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