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.
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 5, 2015
Source: the publisher
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.