When We Collided: A Review

When We Collided by Emery LordVivi falls in love with Verona Cove almost immediately. It is a small, painfully quaint town that seems to be brimming over with possibility. The perfect place for her painter mother to find inspiration this summer. The perfect place for Vivi to regroup after her painful departure from Seattle months ago. With a job in the pottery shop, breakfast at the diner each morning, and the perfect view of the ocean when she throws one of her pills away, Vivi is sure that this summer is going to be just perfect.

Jonah has been struggling. His father’s death is still a gaping, ragged hole of grief. His mother is falling apart–lost in depression that might be grief or might be clinical. He and his older siblings have been trying to keep the family together and mind their three younger siblings. But Jonah is starting to cave under the responsibilities and obligations.

Vivi and Jonah never expected to meet, much less fall in love. Over the course of one tumultuous summer they will do that and more. Together Vivi and Jonah might have all of the pieces to heal themselves. But after learning how to be together, they might also have to learn how to survive apart in When We Collided (2016) by Emery Lord.

Find it on Bookshop.

When We Collided is Lord’s third novel.

This novel is narrated by Vivi and Jonah in alternating first-person chapters as they each tell their own stories and the story of their growing relationship. Vivi is coming to terns with her diagnosis with bipolar disorder (and the aftermath of her last manic episode) while trying to have a quiet summer with her mother. Jonah is still shattered by his father’s premature death and the sudden responsibilities he has had to take on as a result.

While Lord once again offers readers a sweet romantic plot, it is misleading to call this book a romance. Instead When We Collided is more the story of two people who meet at the right time–exactly when they need each other and when they can help each other the most.

Lord does a great job making Vivi’s life with bipolar disorder realistic and authentic. She is much more than her diagnosis. Her narration is frenetic and vibrant and makes it painfully clear when things begin to slip. While the trope of avoiding medication is tiresome, it’s handled decently in When We Collided and does end with Vivi committed to treatment and agreeing to discuss options more fully with her doctor before making and sudden decisions.

(There’s also a side-plot with Vivi looking for her father which is messy, poorly explained, and could have done with more research and development.)

By contrast, Jonah is easily the more grounded of the two and readily lets himself get swept up in Vivi’s whirlwind. His life is a nice contrast to Vivi’s and underscores that everyone has something they are working through and moving toward.

When We Collided doesn’t end neatly. Vivi and Jonah’s story is messy and complicated and open-ended. Neither character knows what will come next, and neither do readers. The only thing that’s clear for these two incredibly strong teens is that they are better for know each other and, no matter what comes next, they are going to be okay. Lord delivers another compelling and engrossing novel here. Recommended for fans and readers looking for romantic stories with complex characters and realistic portrayals of mental illness.

Possible Pairings: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan, The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti, Wild Awake by Hillary T. Smith, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

The Start of Me and You: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Start of Me and You by Emery LordFor the past two years Paige has been defined by the unexpected death or her first boyfriend. While Paige’s grief is real, she also often feels like an impostor being lumped together with others who knew her boyfriend so much better and miss him much more keenly.

When Paige decides she’s ready to make the most of her time left in high school, she knows she has to start dating again. Who better than her long-time crush Ryan Chase to help Paige convince everyone she is back to normal? They don’t have a lot in common but Paige is certain they could become friends. Especially when Ryan’s smart (nice, cute, totally nerdy) cousin convinces Paige to join the school’s Quiz Bowl team (number two: re-join an extracurricular activity).

With help from her friends Tessa, Kayleigh and Morgan–and even Ryan and Max–Paige is certain to have an unforgettable year filled with quiz competitions, nerdy discussions, TV shows and healing. As Paige and Max get to know each other, she has to decide if she needs to stick to her plan or take a leap to discover something completely unexpected in The Start of Me and You (2015) by Emery Lord.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Start of Me and You is Lord’s sophomore novel, coming after her debut Open Road Summer made a splash in 2014.

While it’s easy to focus on the romantic aspects of this story since Max is adorable (as is Ryan to a lesser extent), it’s also not entirely accurate. Yes, there is a romance plot here. Yes, the cover and title make that overtly clear. At the time time, The Start of Me and You is a lot more than that.

Lord delivers a fully-realized world in this novel as readers are immediately drawn into Paige’s life in her small and sometimes stifling town. This novel also boasts a charming ensemble cast filled with characters who compliment Paige and add their own elements to the story. In addition to Paige moving through her grief, Lord also includes plot threads about dealing with divorce, dating someone who is maybe not right, the push and pull between close friends to name just a few.

At its core The Start of Me and You is a true slice-of-life novel as it follows Paige over the course of her junior year. At times it feels like Lord might have taken on too much but she brings everything together by the end in a way that is both authentic and satisfying.

Paige and Max are a great pair who work well together even as they challenge each other to be their best selves. It would be a spoiler to discuss how their relationship ends, but rest assured that not matter what follows it starts with a rock solid friendship.

Happily, friendship is a common theme throughout the novel as, even in the midst of romantic troubles, Paige returns to her friends Tessa, Kayleigh and Morgan. The girls are a great support system for each other and have unconditional love and trust between each other–something that is sadly not seen enough in YA novels. Paige’s family is also a great source of support though often in unconventional ways.

The Start of Me and You is a book that truly has it all including a smart heroine, an adorable male lead, a great story and even some allusions to Jane Austen thrown in. A delight. Highly recommended.

You can also check out my review with Emery about the book!

Possible Pairings:  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Royals by Rachel Hawkins, The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills,  I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot, Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Sandell, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

*An advance copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher*

Author Interview: Emery Lord on The Start of Me and You

Emery Lord author photoEmery Lord made a splash in 2014 with her debut novel Open Road Summer. She’s here today to talk about her second novel, The Start of Me and You. My review will be posting tomorrow, but let me tell you I loved The Start of Me and You even more than Open Road Summer and I am beyond thrilled to have Emery here to answer some questions about it!

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell us a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Emery Lord (EM): Sure! I majored in English Lit and started writing fiction more seriously after college. (I say “more seriously” but I just mean I was carving out time for it seriously. The actual writing was fun!) I signed with my agent 2 or 3 years into writing for real and sold Open Road Summer in 2012.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Start of Me and You?

EM: Man, this is self-centered, but…largely, my own teen years. I wanted to write about a suburb that is kind of generic but still yours & home, a group of friends that is kind of nebulous- people coming and going/groups overlapping, and I wanted to make the most realistic decisions possible in the story, even if they were cringe-worthy. I wanted to write about boys who aren’t suave or perfect…just human, with good qualities and flaws and a lot of kindness too. Beyond that, when I started writing, I was trying to come back to myself after a really intense grieving experience. It’s so strange- I think I talked myself through it via Paige. Like, I couldn’t figure out how to be okay in my own life, but I could somehow float outside of it and guide this fictional character.

MP: Readers learn early on that Paige is a big reader and TV watcher. Do you have any (current or past) favorite books and TV shows that you can share with us?

EM: Well, I’m obviously deeply entrenched in Arrow right now, haha. I never used to watch much TV at all, but I’ve grown to really love it post-college. I particularly love Friday Night Lights & Parenthood (surprise surprise, shows that are committed to realism). A few favorite books of all time that I get VERY nerdy about: Looking for Alibrandi, Fair & Tender Ladies, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Alice McKinley series. I’m also a huge fan of many short stories & their writers- Amy Hempel, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jennifer Egan, Lorrie Moore. Like, I will geek out if I find people who want to talk about these stories.

MP: To start her junior year off right, Paige make a plan which includes joining a new club. For Paige that ends up being Quiz Bowl. What clubs were you a part of in high school? If you could do it again, what clubs would you join?

EM: I was in marching band, jazz band, show choir and theater. As an adult, I actually hate doing anything performative, haha! So if I could do it again, I’d found a feminist/social justice club a la Morgan in The Start of Me and You.

MP: Do you have any specialized knowledge that would be useful in a quiz competition?

EM: I can hold my own with the literary canon, state capitals, art and music. I will always win Friends trivia and always lose sports trivia.

MP: Paige is a great narrator and one of my favorite characters. But she also has a great supporting cast in this novel. Is there any character you’re especially excited for readers to meet? Did you have a favorite (or hardest) character to write about?

EM: Thanks! I think the hardest wasn’t a specific character but writing a cast that big/trying to get their individuality and voices across. I really loved exploring Tessa and trying to figure out how to show this girl who is disillusioned and bored but still loving and engaged in other ways.

MP: One of my favorite things about The Start of Me and You is that it’s a really smart book. Paige and Max both have great vocabularies–which they use with each other. Was there any word that you were particularly eager to incorporate into their conversations?

EM: Thank you! I (embarrassingly) keep index cards when I run across a new word in an article or book to quiz myself on them. With Paige and Max, it was less about the specific words and more about the particular…comfort of finding someone who literally speaks your language.

MP: Without getting into spoiler territory, Max and Paige also talk a bit about Pride and Prejudice so I have to ask: Do you see yourself as a Jane or an Elizabeth? Thoughts on Bingley and Darcy?

EM: Ha, you know, I felt like P&P was everywhere when I started working on this book, and I kept wondering why everyone fixates on Elizabeth and Darcy, when Jane and Bingley have this really interesting pas de deux of miscommunication and undertone and longing. That being said, I don’t know which I am, actually! As much as I crush on brooders (Darcy), the truth is I go for the sweet-to-the-core ones.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

EM: It’s called When We Collided, and it’s a summer love story told in dual POV. I tried to tell a story of lives that look like mine and my friends: where there are sometimes mental health struggles and therapists and medication, but also- truly- so much happiness. It is my favorite thing I’ve ever written.

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

EM: This is going to sound like a cop-out, but I swear I mean it. My advice is: take all writing advice with a grain of salt. Some people may have 2k a day goals, get up early to write, do NaNoWriMo, purge manuscripts of all adverbs, plot extensively, don’t plot at all, repeat “show don’t tell” as if it’s gospel. You don’t have to do any of those things. You can try them; maybe they’ll work and that’s great! But you gotta find the way that works for YOU. Beyond that, to quote Conan: work hard, be kind.

Thanks again to Emery for a great interview.

You can see more about Emery and her books on her website.

You can also read my reviews of Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You here on the blog!

 

Open Road Summer: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Open Road Summer by Emery LordReagan knows she is better than her past behavior would indicate. She knows she deserves more than her bad-news ex-boyfriend and more than her bad girl reputation. What Reagon doesn’t know is how to get beyond all of those things once and for all.

Reagan’s best friend, Lilah Montgomery is having problems of her own including nursing a broken heart and headlining her first major tour. With her star on the rise, Lilah will have to navigate the world of country music stardom and the murky waters of celebrity news and minor scandal.

Even with so much baggage, Reagan is thrilled to be joining the tour for a girls only summer of bonding and healing.

The only problem is Matt Finch–himself a former teen star–is also part of the tour as an opener. With his clean-cut good looks and enough snark to match Reagan barb for barb, Reagan knows her promise to stay drama-(and boy)-free all summer is in for trouble.

It takes a cross-country tour but over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that mistakes aren’t forever,  even if friends are, and home doesn’t always have to be somewhere to leave in Open Road Summer (2014) by Emery Lord.

Find it on Bookshop.

Open Road Summer is Lord’s first novel.

Believe the hype about this book. Lord has crafted a novel that is equal parts escapism and realism. While readers are treated to the luxe world of celebrity musicians, Open Road Summer also highlights the tough realities of living (and growing up) in the public eye.

Reagan is a prickly, multifaceted narrator with a lot of heart and a lot of personality. The fact that she is a self-proclaimed bad girl who wants a change is utterly refreshing. This story constantly challenges the usual tropes and binary structures found in similar stories to create a plot and a cast of characters that are unique and completely engaging.

Tour stops across the country add a vivid backdrop to this delectable story of a girl trying to find her way.

Possible Pairings: Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy, Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter, Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle