Where It Began Ann Redisch Stampler Book Review

Ann Redisch Stampler’s debut novel Where It Began is about a girl named Gabby Gardiner who is pulled from a horrific car crash and has no memory of what happened or what caused the crash. Where It Began shows what happened before the crash, the aftermath, and Gabby’s eventual discovery of the truth.

Where It Began Ann Redisch Stampler Book Cover

Where It Began

Gabby Gardiner is not an immensely likable character. See, she has this overwhelming desire to be popular and so she gets a makeover and catches the eye of Billy Nash, a wealthy golden boy. Other than Gabby’s obsession with keeping Billy as her boyfriend and being good at ceramics, Gabby has no definable characteristics. This was likely done on purpose to show Gabby’s state of mind. Yet is is grating because it is pretty obvious that Billy Nash is bad news, especially in the very beginning of Where It Began as he is missing from Gabby’s hospital room.

Much of Where It Began revolves around Gabby piecing together what happened after the accident, which is a bit similar to Forget You by Jennifer Echols but not as romantic. I did find the unraveling of the chain of events that lead to the accident to be quite compelling as well as reading about how Gabby tries to game the system on Billy’s instructions. The plot moves along at a good pace and Stampler’s voicing of Gabby reads as authentic.

Yet, there was a strong disconnect with the characters of Where It Began. It’s hard to care about Gabby because she’s so obsessed with her boyfriend. Seriously, she’s kind of boring because all she ever seems to talk or think about is Billy Nash, who is not that great. And as a reader, to see her fall all over herself for someone who isn’t that wonderful, I just sort of became numb to the book.

Where It Began definitely will have an audience with teen readers and contemporary young adult fans. It is well-written and has an interesting plot. Yet, the characters fell short for this reader. So, if you are more of a plot person than a character person, you will probably really enjoy Where It Began.

Disclosure: Received for review via Vine.

Other reviews of Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler:

Forever Young Adult
Pure Imagination

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I go back and forth, trying to figure out if I’m a character or a plot person because I honestly am not sure. Sometimes I fall wholeheartedly for a character and sometimes the plot takes me surprise even when the characters fall short. Either way I will definitely be giving this a try (at least because I got a copy through Amazon Vine and will need to write a review for it 😉
    Bookworm1858 recently posted..March 2012 StatsMy Profile

  2. I’m not really sure why, but in this case these rather one-dimensional characters worked for me. Usually I hate them, but in WHERE IT BEGAN they added to the story. I was a bit surprised about that myself, so I can definitely understand everyone who was a bit annoyed about them.
    Other than that I absolutely loved WHERE IT BEGAN and couldn’t stop reading it. Thanks a lot for your honesty though – I love reading different opinions about the books I read because they often make me see things I might have not realized immediately. 😀

    Carina @ Fictional Distraction recently posted..In My Mailbox #47My Profile

  3. While I can see some of my girl students liking this story (they’re very boy-obsessed so they can probably connect), it definitely doesn’t seem like one I’d like. Self/boy-obsessed characters just don’t float my boat.
    Mary @ Book Swarm recently posted..Choosing Ceremony Day: INSURGENT by Veronica RothMy Profile

  4. Is it bad that my first thought about this was “Hey, I really like the shirt that girl has on?” After reading your review and what it’s about, I’m thinking that’s probably my best thought about this. I just can’t get behind characters who change everything for a boy.
    Candice recently posted..AbandonMy Profile

  5. Nice review! I am a BIG character person so this one might not be a win in my book, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
    Tara recently posted..Book review: The Selection by Kiera CassMy Profile

  6. I could not and frankly did not want to finish this book. Found the main character utterly unlikable and like you mentioned, way too obsessed with a guy who didn’t deserve it. You are stronger than me.
    Sarah recently posted..Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth EulbergMy Profile

  7. Plot over character, hm? Better be a damn good plot. I’m with you on the character development being supreme.

  8. I love the idea of piecing together what happened. Rosebush by Michele Jaffe had a similar story and I loved it, I think I’ll really like Where It Began. Thanks for the review :]
    Jasmine Rose recently posted..Cover Lover {38}My Profile

  9. hm not sure if I could handle the girl being completely obsessed with a guy thing
    Meghan recently posted..Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books to Read in a DayMy Profile

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