Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: When We Collided by Emery LordWhen We Collided by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 5, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

I’ve read all of Emery Lord’s books and I’ve loved them all. But When We Collided was by far my favorite. It has everything that made me love Emery’s first two books, but it also has MORE. I don’t even know how to process the raw emotion and realness of this story and these characters. I can’t even put it into words, so I’m sorry if this review is mostly blubbering and babbling. I loved these characters, this plot, the writing – basically everything about this book.

Vivi is so vivacious and so full of life, you’d never know she was struggling with internal demons and darkness. She’s a whirlwind of emotion, completely unfiltered, saying and doing whatever. While she’s trying to pull Jonah out of his black hole, she’s falling into one of her own, but she hides it so well – from Jonah, from her mom… Even from herself, to a certain extent.

As Vivi was spiraling out of control, I could actually feel the change in her – in the way she was talking, thinking and behaving. I appreciated that she KNEW she was being horrible to Jonah (“snippy and unyielding,” as she put it), yet she couldn’t help it or stop it. She hits this point where she’s completely erratic and an absolute loose cannon.

Meanwhile, poor Jonah is so young and has such a heavy burden on his shoulders. He’s so embarrassed by his family and the things that have happened that he’s worried Vivi will run for the hills if she finds out. Yet she, better than anyone, would understand and comfort him, if only he’d open up to her. But since she radiates joy and happiness on the outside (and hides her turmoil on the inside), he can’t see her as anything other than this bright, carefree person, someone he doesn’t want to burden with his troubles. It just goes to show you that everyone handles things differently and you can’t judge someone by their outward appearance or attitude.

As Jonah was hitting his breaking point – when the burden of taking care of his family became too much and he couldn’t handle the mounting responsibilities – I could feel the change in him, like I did with Vivi, and it absolutely broke my heart to see him breaking down.

The big difference between Jonah and Vivi is, when Jonah hits his breaking point, it motivates him to make something happen, to change things for the better. For Vivi, hitting her breaking point means breaking down into a manic, self-destructive spiral. But that’s understandable – it goes back to the differences in the state of their mental health. They’re complete opposites in this and it really shows.

I loved Ellie and what she did for both Jonah and Vivi. It’s hard to discuss her role without spoilers, though, so I’ll just leave it at that. I also loved cold, shrewd officer Hayashi and how fatherly and protective of Vivi he was. There are a lot more secondary characters that I could discuss, but I don’t want to bog this review down with that (because I could go on and on about them!). So I’ll just say, in general, all the characters in this book were real and wonderful and played an important part in the story.

The depiction of depression and struggling with sadness is so spot-on and so perfect and real, I just found myself nodding along to things that were happening and things that the characters were saying and doing.

The things that happened near the end blew my mind. My heart was pounding a mile a minute and the shock was so great, I actually had to read certain parts over a few times in an attempt to take it in – and even then, it was hard to comprehend. And the actual ending was heartbreaking yet beautiful and perfect. I don’t think it could have ended any other way, though it’s hard not to wish for a different ending – But explaining why would be a spoiler, so you’ll just have to read the book for yourself to find out what I mean.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from reading my review, this book was gorgeous, heart-breaking and perfect. It’s hard to understand how one book could be all those things at once, but trust me, it was. I loved Vivi and Jonah right away – they’re complete opposites (on the outside, at least), yet they kind of balance each other out in a weird (but cute!) way. I loved how real, truthful and in your face this book was. Emery Lord managed to give an honest depiction of what it’s like to struggle with mental health issues without sounding like she was lecturing or trying to teach readers a lesson – and yet, she did teach readers some important lessons. But it’s up to each reader to take away their own lessons from this book – Because in my opinion, no two readers will walk away feeling the same way. And that’s a rare, beautiful thing for an author to manage.

So yes, I highly recommend this book. There are definitely some trigger warnings for mental health, but I feel that this is an important book to read. If you’re a fan of Emery Lord’s previous two books, you’ll love this one! It’s very different but it’s absolutely amazing and will resonate with you for a long time after that last page.


Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery LordThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury on March 31, 2015
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

I absolutely loved Emery Lord’s debut, Open Road Summer. So as soon as I heard she had another book coming out, I added it to my TBR – And I’m so glad I did!!! The Start of Me and You was beautiful and epic and perfect. Like, as much as I loved Open Road Summer, I loved The Start of Me and You even more – and that’s saying a lot, because I don’t think I had even a single negative thing to say about ORS! Same goes for The Start of Me and You. It had an amazing plot, adorable, realistic, lovable characters and an ending that has me begging for a sequel. I also lost count of how many times it made me cry!

I adored Paige. She was so real, raw and honest. She wasn’t without her flaws, but I liked her so much that her flaws were barely a thought in my mind. And her flaws made her feel that much more real. I felt everything she felt – her sadness over Aaron, her guilt over enjoying life, her determination to start fresh and enjoy life, her anger and confusion towards her parents, her relationship with her friends, her feelings toward Ryan and then Max – I could go on and on.

Max Watson is the love of my life. Kidding.. Maybe.. But seriously, I adored him beyond words. He was nerdy and bookish, cute, funny and flawed. I know this seems silly, but… He wore glasses! Like, in most YA novels, everyone basically has 20/20 vision, right? Or everyone can magically wear contact lenses with no problems at all. Or, if nothing else, it’s the nerdy girl who wears glasses. It was so adorably refreshing to see the guy wearing glasses. I know, I know. It’s a stupid thing to be excited about, but I loved it. Plus, I adored and shipped him and Paige like crazy!

Ryan was super sweet and I actually really shipped him and Paige in the beginning. It was very stereotypical YA to have her crushing on the cute jock, but Ryan was also really smart and funny and I loved his relationship with Max. He didn’t abandon him for fear of what his popular friends might think.

I really loved the friendships in this book. And the idea that girls and boys can be friends. It wasn’t all jealousy and love triangles. I loved the strong bond between Paige, Tessa, Morgan and Kayleigh. They were always there for each other and they were never catty or mean. They fought sometimes, but they always made up and, even when fighting, they always put their problems aside when one of them needed the others. I also liked how Max and Ryan hung out with the girls – sometimes even one on one – and it was just because they had common interests, or had classes together so they studied together. And when Tessa, Morgan and/or Kayleigh hung out with Ryan and/or Max without Paige, it wasn’t because they secretly liked the guys and they were sneaking around behind Paige’s back – They were honestly just friends hanging out. I can’t emphasize that enough. I loved it! It was so refreshing!!

I also loved Paige’s relationship with her grandmother. It was so wonderful and sweet. I loved that she could confide in her grandmother. But I also have to admit, those scenes were also the hardest to read and 98% of my crying happened because of things with her grandmother.

Another thing I loved (besides the entire book, period)? The pop culture references! I saw several Gilmore Girls references, some Bewitched references, I’m pretty sure there was a Harry Potter reference… And so many more! There was also an Open Road Summer reference, which was epic.

Overall, The Start of Me and You was epic. Seriously, I don’t have anything negative to say about it. Even parts that should have been cheesy were epically adorable and hilarious. Every time Paige and Max interacted, I either grinned like a fool or cried like a baby. If you loved Open Road Summer, then The Start of Me and You is a MUST read. And if you haven’t read Open Road Summer OR The Start of Me and You… Well, we can’t be friends anymore… *Turns around, stalks off*

I kid, I kid! But.. No, really. Go read them both. Like, now. Please? I promise, you won’t regret it! Oh, and one last thing and then I promise I’ll stop gushing over this book (Not really, though. I’ll never stop gushing over this book)… I REALLY want a sequel! And I can’t wait to read Emery’s next book. Or her next next book. Or her next next next book. Basically, I want ALL the Emery Lord books NOW. Please :)


Favorite Quote: “With true friends, no one is keeping score. But it still feels good to repay them – even in the tiniest increments.”


Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published by Walker Books on April 15, 2014
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

If you haven’t read Open Road Summer yet, then you need to. Because Matt Finch. That is all. *Walks away.*

Oh, you need more of a reason than Matt Finch? Sorry about that!

Open Road Summer is an incredible coming-of-age, summer-time story. The characters are amazing and likable, the plot is completely intriguing and it will leave you begging for more.

Reagan, the main character, was funny and flawed. Though she hardened herself to the outside world, we (the reader) saw little peaks into her vulnerabilities. She has been hurt so many times, it’s hard for her to trust others. I liked that she wasn’t perfect; She used to drink, do drugs, flirt with guys to get ahead in life. She was in trouble with the law a few times. So many times in YA, the main character is a perfect princess. That’s not life, people aren’t perfect and mistakes happen. I love that she both accepted her flaws and strove to make herself better all at the same time. She came a long way from the first page to the last, but she still had a long way to go – which, again, felt realistic. Not everything can be solved by the end of a book.

I loved Dee. She was so innocent, kind and caring and a loyal friend to Reagan. She was the shining star, but like Reagan, she had moments where she faltered and we saw the cracks in her perfect life. It was nice to see that. The friendship between her and Reagan was epic – they were different enough that, most of the time, they didn’t really butt heads; yet, similar enough that they got along like sisters.

Another thing I loved? Though Reagan was the main character, she wasn’t the center of attention, the hero, the one who gets the special powers. She was the best friend of the star. It was really refreshing!

Matt Finch. Umm… What can I say about Matt Finch? He was hilarious, cocky, sweet, kind, vulnerable, amazing, swoon-worthy… I could go on and on. I had heard so many great things about him and, let me tell you, all those things are true. He is AMAZING. Also.. This is weird, but I find I can’t refer to him as simply “Matt.” He is, and always will be, referred to as “Matt Finch.” Here are some of my favorite quotes from him or said in reference to him:

-“…I’m not sure if you completely hate me or if you think I’m the hottest guy in the world” (Page 72)
-“If he wasn’t so cute, someone would have killed him for being annoying by now.” (Page 75)
-“His self-satisfied grin makes his cheeks look dimply and smackable. I consider it, too…” (Page 94)
-“In the limited time I’ve known him, Matt Finch has never looked more delighted than when he is intentionally pushing my buttons.” (Page 117)

I should mention, while I’m on the subject, how quotable this book was. Normally, I don’t quote a book a lot, but at least half my Goodreads status updates were me just quoting the book. For example:

-“Her DNA twists into bars of music instead of double helixes” (Page 6)
-“…And just like that, we’re on our way to everywhere.” (Page 7)
-“In a fairy tale, she’d play the good fairy. I’d be the evil witch’s screwup second cousin.” (Page 8)
-“That Southern brand of trust is stronger than whiskey, and, when broken, it burns even more.” (Page 31)
-“When you’re on the floor, there’s nowhere farther to fall.” (Page 55)
-“In this place, I feel like the Devil, escorting a newly fallen Angel through the underworld.” (Page 84)

Emery Lord just has this amazing way with words. This is further evidenced in the gorgeous song lyrics she pens into the novel. Each time I encountered song lyrics, I sang them… Out loud… Two or three times… Or however many times it took me to get it right. No shame.

For the most part, Open Road Summer was a light, fluffy read with a summer road trip and best friends determined to take a break from their old lives – For Reagan, that means no guys and no getting into trouble. For Dee, that means getting over a bad break-up. As the story unfolds, there are some pretty heavy moments, situations that can’t be easily solved or simply ignored. But the character’s took it in stride and made the best of the situation, dealing with the hand they were dealt one card at a time.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from my insane, fangirly review, Open Road Summer is an absolute must-read. If you have it on your TBR pile, bump it up and make it your next read. if it ISN’T on your TBR… Well, why isn’t it?!?!?! GO BUY IT NOW! Emery Lord is definitely an up-and-coming author to watch out for – I’m eager to see what she does next!