This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes ~ Review by Allison

This is How it Happened
Hardcover384 pages
Published July 11th 2017 
by HarperTeen
Source: ARC
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


“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 killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star turned teen music idol. Genevieve knows she was driving, and that there was another driver, a man named Bradley 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 it all.

As the internet rages against Bradley Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes across the country to her father’s house, where she can hide from intrusive 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. At some point, she’ll have to deal with her role in what really happened, and the seemingly endless fallout for the man being blamed.


I have always been a huge fan of Paula Stoke’s books since I read The Art of Lainey, Girl Against the Universe, and Vicarious. This is How it Happened is an amazing story about loss, regret, love, and family. Genevieve comes out of a relationship with her famous boyfriend, Dallas, when he passes away after a car accident. She was driving and she blames herself for the accident that killed Dallas. She holds a lot of regret and sadness with her after the accident and is unable to deal with the sad faces and hugs that the people at school give her. She escapes for a summer with her father in Utah. She spends the summer volunteering at Zion National Park with her stepmother, Rachel. Along the way she meets some new friends and finds some new interests while dealing with the memories that keep coming back from the accident.

Genevieve is such a strong character. She has gone through so much and is so young. After the accident she was in a fragile state and having her father there for brief periods of time really helped her. She was able to forget the “betrayal” when her parents divorced and was able to get to know her father again. Escaping her home for the summer was a perfect solution to help her heal. I love that she had a place that she could go to spend time bettering herself and her own mental health.

When Genevieve went to Utah for the summer and changed her name to a nickname and dyed her hair I was just waiting for someone to be able to recognize her. It took a while to actually happened. I loved the dry sense of humor that Genevieve and her dad have. Their relationship is very fun and adorable, but you can tell there are parts that they regret the lost years where they weren’t close. I like how she turns to her dad for a non-judgmental view.

Throughout the book she deals with the online community and isn’t fully in, but she briefly looks at social media websites and news articles that keep bringing up the accident. She is able to regain her memories of the night of the accident and realizes a lot about what happened that night.

Elliot was such a great character. I loved how he was raised by two dads and was proud of his upbringing and being adopted. (Thinking about this made me laugh because of the place they live in- Utah… and that is a big Mormon community, I believe).  Anyways, Elliot is a perfect friend for Genevieve after what happened with Dallas. I just loved everything about Elliot and his role in Genevieve’s life.

The plot moved pretty quickly and kept me interested in the book the whole way through. I loved how much research Paula puts into her books and the amount of imagery and setting descriptions in the book. I just absolutely loved reading about Zion National Park so much that I really want to plan a trip to go there one day soon. I loved how social media and news articles were incorporated into the book to look at how the world is always watching and judging.

Overall the writing was perfect and captivating. This is How it Happened is a great and intriguing read about love, loss, overcoming the aftereffects of an accident, family, and new experiences. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a thought provoking contemporary.  

I rate this book a 4.5/5.

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About the Author:

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres.

When she's not working (rare), she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She's petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant's trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.


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