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Starting from Here

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,473 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Colby Bingham's heart has been broken too many times. Her mother has been dead for almost two years, her truck driver father is always away, her almost girlfriend just dumped her for a guy, and now she's failing chemistry.

When a stray dog lands literally at her feet, bleeding and broken on a busy road, it seems like the Universe has it in for Colby. But th
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Marshall Cavendish
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,473 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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Kat (Lost in Neverland)
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those in need of a happy story

Happiness happy ending of happy level at:



After a sudden break-up with her first girlfriend, Colby Bingham is devastated to find out that the same girl she had loved for months dumped her for a boy.
Colby's still dealing with the loss of her mother from cancer two years earlier and the fact that her father is never around because of his job. When she witnesses a dog being hit by a car because of her own actions, Colby and her 'best buddy' Van rush off to the animal hospital to save him. T
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: lesbian mc & li, gay side character

3.5 ☆

listen i wanted a cute gay contemporary romance & that's exactly what i got!! with a proper amount of angts, two girls being adorable and flirting, some family drama and teen drama, and a DOG mixed in.
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book in a First Reads giveaway.

Review originally posted on my blog.

I broke one of my very strict reading rules by entering the giveaway for this book. The blurb for Starting From Here starts off with:

Sixteen-year-old Colby Bingham’s heart has been broken too many times. Her mother is dead, her truck driver father is always away, and her almost girlfriend just dumped her for a guy.

Normally any mention of a) a dead mom, b) a newly straight ex-girlfriend and, to a lesser extent
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This was really sweet!

Colby's girlfriend Rachel just broke up with her, and to make matters worse, Rachel's already found herself a boyfriend. Colby wants to avoid Rachel now, and she does so by spending as much time with best friend Van as she can, while also avoiding ally meetings. One afternoon while out with Van, a stray dog wanders toward them, and when the dog becomes spooked, he's hit by an oncoming car. It's then Colby knows she needs to take this dog under her care, even if it means te
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Starting From Here is a great LGBT novel. The novel accurately portrays what it’s like to be an LGBT high school student. I could definitely relate a lot to Colby. We went through a lot of similar situations in our high school careers. I thought it was cool that her school had an LGBT alliance. I wish that my school would have had one when I was in high school. It would have made things a lot easier. I felt a lot of pity for Colby. The only thing that seemed to be going right for her was her bes ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it
This was cute. I think there was too much time dedicated to the romance Colby couldn't get over and not enough to the new one, but there was a lot of sweet stuff in here, a lot of queer representation, a good "mom substitute" subplot, and a pretty damn cute 3-legged dog.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lisa Jenn Bigelow's debut is the story of Colby Bingham, an independent senior high school student struggling to connect to her family, friends, and girlfriends. She's still reeling from the death of her mother, two years ago, and doesn't feel like she can talk to her father, a trucker who is rarely home.

She has people in her life who would love to help her. There's her best friend, Van, who is practically her brother. The teacher in charge of the school's GSA often tries to check in with her. W
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, coming-of-age, vine, lgbtq
Short, sweet and very heartfelt YA. It's your basic coming-of-age type story - angsty teenager dealing with friends, family, school, romance - but with an LGBT angle (and not just the main character - her best friend also is gay, and her group of friends forms their school's gay/straight alliance - so lots of opportunity to explore LGBT youth issues). The story touches on a lot of other issues, too, like class/money and the death of a parent.

In short, Colby, the main character, is struggling wit
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really fabulous coming-of-age story. Colby is a high school junior whose mother died of cancer, and whose father is always gone, working as a trucker. She thinks she is in love with Rachel, who has recently dumped her for a boy. In the midst of all this pain, she rescues a dog that has been hit by a car and is gravely injured, though she feels inside just as broken as her dog had been. The novel focuses on Colby's growing up, on her finally starting to let people in, and to be open and honest ab ...more
Sissy Van Dyke
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
The thing I liked most about this book is the same thing that I liked least: it was an accurate depiction of what it is like to fall in love, come out, and be rejected in high school. This book brought me back the angst and excitement of my own high school coming out experiences.

Colby had three advantages that I didn't in high school: 1) A truck, 2) A most excellent friend: Van, and 3) an unconditionally loving dog: Mo. She also has a great father who provides the added benefit of leaving her al
Teen & Young Adult Zone
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-reviews
Teen Review

Genre: Romance/Family

Colby find a stray dog near her house and through him she learns how to open herself up to new relationships and opportunities.

This book was very relatable and well-written. It focused on a lot of different issues and was an overall very satisfying book. The characters were very diverse and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

People might like this book if they liked:
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Reviewed by Bethany
Maureen Connelly
Colby was such a sympathetic figure. How could you not love someone who takes care of a stray? She makes plenty of mistakes, but she learns important lessons by the end.
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it
i thought a novel about a gay girl adopting a three legged dog and becoming a vet's mentee/daughter figure would resonate more with me but it was just. nice. that's all.
Stephanie A.
Boy, it sure would be fun to find a lesbian novel that doesn't involve them peeling off each other's clothes within a month or two of meeting. That pretty much soured me on all of the relationship elements, but on the bright side, I absolutely loved her big three legged dog -- "big and white with black, folded ears and a black patch over one eye," how cute! -- and her well meaning if absent trucker father, as well as her dog-training sessions with the Very Friendly and Charitable Vet.
Anna Ledwin
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
took me forever to finish it but definitely worth the read! the story followed a pretty Classic© teen narrative but I appreciated that colbys sexuality wasn't THE MAIN FOCUS of the book, there was no "oh shit im gay!" it was more like "I love this girl who doesnt love me back waah!" the writing was straightforward and fine. I feel like the characters lacked dimmension in some cases (I felt like we Really only knew colby and van, and maybe her dad) but the novel clearly wasn't written to
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
4/5 stars

Let me start off this very angry review by saying that I loved this book. It was genuine and heartfelt, showing the real process of grief but also giving the main character, Colby, happiness that helped her begin to cope. I loved Mo, Colby's dog, and the way grief was treated; the romance between Colby and Amelia was adorable and heartwarming, and the only reason I gave this a 4 rather than a 5 was because I feel there could have been more time spent building up the relationship between
Starting From Here is about a gay girl, her three legged dog, and her trucker father. Colby's mother died two years ago, her father is always on the road, she's failing chemistry, and her girlfriend just dumped her for a guy. Then one night, Colby comes upon a stray dog who gets hit by a car, she takes him to the vet, and now she has someone to keep her company at home. But Colby is still failing at school, missing her father, and pushes away a girl who may actually care about her out of fear.

Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a different kind of contemporary for me-most of the YA books I read are filled with characters who are economically comfortable if not insanely rich. The biggest worry might be paying for college, certainly a concern in this age of skyrocketing college expenses. But money isn't so much a concern. That is not the case in Starting From Here. Main character Colby lives in a trailer, works a boring job at a grocery store to pay for gas and insurance (having worked at a grocery store, I can ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt-ya, amazon-vine
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 de
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
Teenaged romance is tough, even in the best of times, and life has dealt Colby Bingham a difficult hand. Her mother died of cancer two years ago, her father, a long-haul trucker, is gone most of the time, and her latest crush has broken her heart. How could things get any worse? How about rescuing a stray dog that was struck by a car and needs to have a leg amputated. But that dog turns out to be a gift in disguise, bringing new people into Colby’s life and ultimately helping her find a way forw ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this YA coming of age story. Unfortunately, the only unique thing about the book was the LGBT slant. And though Bigelow handled this aspect of the novel well, I just couldn’t sympathize with the selfish and shockingly immature narrator, Colby. Colby treated friends and family terribly throughout the novel - so much so that the resolution truly surprised me. Only one character called her out on being a raging brat, but it never seemed to sink in at all. There were tender m ...more
Mrs. S
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Starting From Here is the story of Colby, whose mother is dead, and whose father is a long-haul trucker who comes home maybe once a week. Her girlfriend broke up with her to focus on school, and Colby's own grades are perilously low. But when she finds an abandoned dog she names Mo, things start to change in Colby's life. Amelia, a cute reporter from the school paper, wants to interview Colby about her dog...and get to know her better. Robyn, Mo's vet, takes an interest in Colby and Mo and tries ...more
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good, powerful, entertaining ya novel that shows the gradual shift in our cultural expectations. The protagonist, Colby, is a 16 year old, and she's a semi-out lesbian--and Bigelow has written a book that makes the challenge of Colby's orientation one of many equal challenges in her life, which is a feat that few GLT novels I've read have managed to carry off. Colby's mom died several years ago, and her dad is a long distance trucker; money is tight, school doesn't seem to mean a lot to Colby ...more
Jenni Frencham
Colby's mom died of cancer just a couple of years ago. Her dad is a truck driver, so he spends most of his time on the road. At the beginning of this book, Colby's girlfriend breaks up with her, only to show up at school the next day hand-in-hand with a boy. Then, when Colby is picking up cans with a friend, a stray dog chases after them and is hit by a truck. The dog survives, but has to have one of its legs amputated. Colby and her dog are both trying to adjust to life as it is, but the dog is ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ah, this book was so sweet and brimming with lovable characters. I adored Colby and though she did frustrate me at times with her habit of pushing away all of the people who were queuing up to help her, it was understandable why she felt the need to. She was a sympathetic character but also so cool and genuine; she was the kind of person I'd want as a friend.

One thing I thought was excellent about this book was that a big deal wasn't made of Colby's sexuality; though the difficulty of coming ou
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fiction-other
'Starting From Here' is a fantastic Young Adult story. The characters are believable, relatable, and they draw you straight into their world. The writing is heartfelt and really tugged at my memories of what it was like to be in high school. Thankfully my life was fraught with less struggles than that of Colby, so it allowed me to have a lot of patience and compassion for her. Which isnt' to say I forgave her for all the idiotic choices she makes, but that is what makes her and her story so inte ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, ya
I think what I liked most about this book was the fact that it managed to avoid stereotypes completely--and even more so, it did it in a way that wasn't trying to twist or upend convention. No, these were just a bunch of normal teenagers with individual personalities, lives, and problems. Sexual orientation happened to be one of the many aspects of these teenagers' lives--along with money issues, grades, parents, and relationships with friends, adults, and romantic interests--that everyone grapp ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I think my favorite aspect of this book is the normalcy. It's the story of a teenage girl struggling through hard lessons, abstract ideas, and things she'd rather not face. The bare bones of every realistic, slice-of-life, teenage novel. Yes, Colby is a lesbian. But is that really someone to focus on? I don't think so. Love is love is love. You could have easily replaced Rachel and Amelia with guys, and the story still makes sense (except the secrecy about your love).

And I like that. LBTQ chara
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Michigan native Lisa Jenn Bigelow is the critically acclaimed author of the middle grade novels Hazel’s Theory of Evolution (2019), winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children's/Middle Grade, and Drum Roll, Please (2018),  an Illinois Reads selection and Michigan Notable Book; and the young adult novel Starting from Here (2012), an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten Book. A graduate of Carne ...more

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