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.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: 4-4.5 stars! The messages revealed throughout the course of this book are one-hundred-percent the driving force of this novel, but I can’t deny that I loved the characters, the setting, and the family dynamics that became just as integral. Ms. Stokes continues to impress me with her range as a writer and has definitely cemented herself among my auto-read-author pile. I think everyone needs to read this book!

♥ Review: I believe Ms. Stokes swung for the fences in her latest novel, This is How it Happened, because of all the messages she chose to incorporate in it. Just to tackle the major ones, I thought her showcasing the impact of cyber bullying and how it manifests mob mentality was especially important. It’s easy for internet trolls to hide behind their screen-names and IP addresses, for them to lie to themselves and say they’re only one person, but to see firsthand how it directly affected characters in this novel, should really make people consider how their words, whether spoken or written, have the ability to hurt someone. More so, I loved how a majority of Genevieve’s development included people in her life and herself owning up to their own mistakes and accepting whatever consequence that comes with that. In this day and age, it seems like more and more people are happy to push the blame off on others or to deny involvement, and when you have on blinders to what’s happening around you, it’s hard to realize how that can snowball and really contribute to screwing up someone else’s (and even trickle to other family, friends, a coworker’s) life. I applaud Stokes for not being afraid to take on such a noteworthy, yet somewhat controversial issue, even more so for the multiple ways she included it and letting her readers see the toll that it really could have in another’s life.

Aside from the central themes and engaging plot, I thought the characters were so well written. The author did an amazing job of delivering authentic, varied voices for her dynamic, diverse cast of characters, both main and secondary. I love that she took the time to build all of her characters-literally, every single one of them-and fill them all with facets of with flaws, genuineness, and likable, relatable traits. I think a majority of her characters actually even had to work a bit for redemption for something they’ve done in their lives, whether that be something they had to forgive themselves or others for, and that just spoke all the more to the humanity of her characters. Because in the end, we’re all capable of big and little mistakes, and the way we inevitably grow as people and in our relationships is by owning them. I can’t let this little section go by without mentioning how incredibly much I adored the parents in these books; how they were present and screwing up just as much as the kids in some cases, but involved nonetheless. The other little tidbit I need to talk about is Elliot, the eventual love interest, and how much I really freaking adored the hell out of him. Their romance is nowhere near the focal point of the story, but his compassion and patience with Genevieve, as well as his quiet encouragement and flirtatious nature endeared me to him forever and ever while also aiding in her growth development. I wouldn’t mind having one of him around. (Brief sidenote: I like that Stokes had Genevieve take her time before admitting to herself that she had feelings toward him. She did just lose her first love, and I don’t think it would have been honest to her character to dive immediately in to a new relationship. That said, damn did I wish this book could have been a hundred pages longer so we could have gotten in at least two dozen or more kissing scene because daaaaaamn.)

Lastly, the setting for this book once she moved to Utah to get away from it all was nothing short of gorgeous. The way Stokes wrote the scenery really invited all my senses to the party, and almost made me feel like I could see, hear, and feel it all. Not going to lie, it gave me a serious case of the wanderlust. Zion National Park is officially on my must-see destination list.

♥ Teaser Quote: There are probably dozens of quotes from interactions between Genevieve and Elliot alone that I want to share with you, but can’t because they’re kind of spoilery and super lengthy. Then there’s other ones that really make you think. A few from a parent offering valuable advice. Instead, predictably in my case, I’m going to give you a little taste of some mild flirting that still made me smile when I reread over my notes. I flove E hard.

    Elliot coughs. “Are you saying you’re starved for affection? Because I could probably help with that.”
    I roll onto my side to see if he’s kidding. “Oh yeah?” I say wryly. “That’s awfully kind of you.”
    He blinks innocently. “Public service–it’s just who I am.”

– quote taken from the eARC of This is How it Happened at 66%

Book Rating Breakdown
General Book Feels
Cute, Fuzzies, Flutters
Angst Me So Good

♥ Rec It? Absolutely! So many important messages are delivered in this book, but the characters, particularly Genevieve’s development and journey, really elevate the overall reading experience. Ms. Stokes has written another solid YA book! Go get it, pretties, and share it with your friends.

♥ A very special thanks to HarperTEEN and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An e-copy of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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