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Starting From Here Kindle Edition

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Length: 287 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Age Level: 12 - 18
Grade Level: 7 - 12th

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the two years since 16-year-old Colby’s mother died, Colby’s grades have slipped, and her father’s nonstop work as a trucker leaves her to fend for herself most of the time. When Colby’s girlfriend dumps her for a guy, it’s the last straw; Colby is distraught and defensive, and she further isolates herself by avoiding the gay-straight alliance meetings at school as well as her best friend Van. Things begin to change for the better when she adopts and forms an intense attachment to a three-legged stray dog. Colby befriends a vet and finds a new love interest, but neither of the girls has come out to her parents, and Colby is reluctant to open her heart again. Debut author Bigelow capably captures a teen’s fears of abandonment and judgment, as well as the often wobbly path toward developing a sexual identity, through Colby’s pragmatic perspective. This voice-driven coming-of-age story offers a relatable glimpse at the value of honesty in relationships and of showing one’s authentic self to the world. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)

From Booklist

Sixteen going on seventeen isn’t so sweet for Colby. In the two years since her mother’s death, her father has been on the road driving his big rig in every direction but toward her. She’s become increasingly withdrawn and unfocused, and she is edging far too close to failing out of school. And the cherry atop her misery sundae? Her girlfriend, her first love, dumped her for a boy. There are some bright spots, however, including her best friend, Van, and her beloved dog, Mo, both of whom give her the unconditional love she craves. Bigelow effectively shapes a narrative of a girl adrift in her own loneliness. Colby has a suitcase full of issues, and while being closeted is one of them, it’s her inability to deal with her frustrated grieving process that poisons every relationship, even one with a new potential girlfriend. Though the book at times meanders—the occasional online chat–styled dialogue doesn’t help—it is a mostly winning and amiable debut.— Courtney Jones, Booklist Oct. 2012

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More About the Author

Born and raised in Michigan, Lisa now lives in the Chicago area, where she works as a youth services librarian. Her other interests include music, art, road trips, and spending time with her dogs, Saffy and Brooklyn.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I for one look forward to the day this kind of a book doesn't have to be labeled "gay and lesbian". Yes, the main character, Colby Bingham, is lesbian, and many of her friends are gay, lesbian, bi or trans, so clearly many of the issues of the book revolve around issues that affect LGBTQ teens - coming out, being out, getting bullied and/or ostracized, etc. But underlying those issues are simply issues that teens (and all of us, for that matter) deal with - love and loss, family and friend relationships, crushes, puppy love and introduction to dating. One certainly need not be gay or lesbian (or even a teen) to appreciate this book - I am a middle-aged married mother of two little girls, and I found it engaging, poignant and uplifting. Of course, if we ever reach the point that this book could simply be considered teen/young adult fiction rather than "gay" fiction, Ms. Bigelow would lose most of her plot.

Colby Bingham has been having a rough go of things lately. Her mother died of cancer a few years ago. Her father soon returned to his job as a long-haul truck driver. He and Colby rarely talk, at least about anything meaningful. Colby pretty much fends for herself working nights and weekends to pay for her ride, Scarlett, a red pick-up truck, and trying not to flunk chemistry. Things aren't all bad. Her best friend Van is sweetest, most understanding friend a girl could have, and she's got a great girlfriend. Sort of. Until her girlfriend dumps her. For a guy.

At that point, things begin spiraling out of control for Colby, but the dumping was only a catalyst, not the underlying issue. Colby is adrift - living a lie with the person closest to her and unable to reach out and find the support she needs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan Dorfman VINE VOICE on October 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Starting From Here" is an eminently readable, clear-eyed look at the life and times of Colby Bingham, a semi-closeted teenaged girl with a dead mother, absent father and the independence, self-reliance and pain that comes with the territory. Yet it is precisely those things that send her into a tailspin when her first girlfriend dumps her for a boy. Her free fall starts to get under control when she finds a stray mutt which promptly runs into traffic and is hit by a car. After bringing the damaged dog to the veterinary hospital she chooses to claim his ownership. However the dog needs surgery to amputate a rear leg and Colby doesn't have the money to pay.

Luckily Robyn, the veterinarian with 3 dogs of her own, takes a personal interest in Colby and her new dog and does the surgery for free, allows the dog to stay at the veterinary hospital when Colby is at school or work and even helps Colby to train her new canine friend. Suddenly Colby is receiving much needed unconditional love and the need to take care of someone other than herself requires she lose her self-absorption and re-engage with her life and world.

Written crisply with a keen ear for teenaged dialogue and a convincing knowledge of modern teenagers by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, "Starting From Here" is an uplifting story especially surprising after seeing the words "Amazon Children's Publishing" on the dust jacket. 40+ years ago when I was the age of the protagonist there were no lives like this, much less books about them. All the more reason to applaud the author and rejoice just how far America has come - in fiction if not always fact.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sistahs on the Shelf on September 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I picked up Starting From Here from my post office box, I had no idea it would be so good.

The story surrounds Colby Alicia Bingham, a could-be-better student and bagger at her local grocery store. She's what some would call a lone wolf, especially since her mother passed a year and a half ago and her father truck drives across the country every other week. She thinks she's found happiness with Rachel, her almost girlfriend, but then she dumps her, saying she's not serious enough. Colby's devastated and wallows in her hurt, cutting everyone off except her best friend Van.

Then one day she and Van are simply hunting for aluminum cans by the side of the road, and out darts a stray dog. A white bodied, black eared bull mix that Colby adopts, as she's worried about its safety.

Mo's arrival is right on time, considering Rachel is now in the arms of a dude for crying out loud. Without her dad around, Colby gets unconditional love from the dog she christens Mo, who also brings a new friend in veterinarian Robyn, who patched Mo up when he was at his worst.

Everything is peachy where Mo is concerned. Everywhere else is a mess. Her grades are about to send her to summer school. Seems as if she can't get away from Rachel and her new boyfriend. Van is insistent on playing matchmaker (without Colby's consent). And the one girl she has her eye on could be potentially heartbreaking.

She can't go through that again. Her heart already feels like a pin cushion. One more push might just cause it fall apart.

Starting From Here is a great debut novel from Lisa Jenn Bigelow. Colby is a genuine character who makes mistakes and eventually learns from them and makes amends in the best way she knows how. What else can you ask for?
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