Review: This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes

June 30, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This is How it HappenedThis is How it Happened by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen on July 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.


Genevieve wakes up in the hospital after being involved in a car crash that claims the life of her boyfriend Dallas. The thing is, she has no memory of what caused the accident in the first place. People are saying a drunk driver is responsible but is that really HOW IT HAPPENED?

Dallas was an up-and-coming musician with a large fanbase already well established. His death affected more than just his family and friends, but his fans as well. Unfortunately, this led Genevieve to be hounded by the press which made her want to escape as she tried to remember how this all happened and also start to heal both physically and mentally.  Her escape comes in the form of spending the summer with her father and stepmother and volunteering at the Zion National Park. Piece by piece memories of that night return and each memory makes Genevieve worry that there was more to the accident than anyone knows and she isn’t sure what to do with what she discovers.

I’ve read memory loss stories before but I like how here we don’t have to wait the entire novel to learn the exact circumstances leading up to the accident. The real focus is on what effect the crash had on Genevieve, the other driver, and so many other people connected to them and to Dallas. We dive into some very real issues, like cyber bullying and online shaming. How people can say such horrible things about others while hiding behind their computer, not caring about the impact of their words. And we witness Genevieve go through all these emotions – despair, guilt, shame – as she comes to terms with the loss of her boyfriend and the circumstances around his death.

There is so much to love about this book – flawed yet compelling characters you can’t help but to root for, American Ninja Warrior references, the growth of wonderful friendships and family relationships, lessons of forgiveness and second chances, and of course the powerful messages behind it in regards to the cause of the accident and the intense reactions by those affected. This is another great novel by Paula Stokes!

About Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, most recently Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

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