Also by this author: Open Road Summer, Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on March 31st 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, General, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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?
As you all may remember, I loved Emery Lord’s debut novel Open Road Summer. So much so that I forced it into the hands of my best friend with the simple instructions of “I don’t care what else you have going on right now, you MUST read this book.” She did and she loved it. Mission accomplished. Anyway, you can imagine my hesitation when I received an ARC of The Start of Me and You because I wasn’t sure how it was going to live up to my experiences with the first novel. Not that I was comparing the two but unfortunately sometimes when a book has such an impact on you, it’s hard to forget, and you may subconsciously start comparing it to other works by the same author. Seriously, it’s always a little nerve wracking when you love an author’s debut novel but you’re unsure if you’re going to feel the same way about their second. Luckily for me though I really had nothing to worry about because The Start of You and Me hooked me right from the beginning with its fantastic characters, wonderful friendships, sweet touch of romance, and important coming-of-age lessons.
Paige Hancock is such a beautiful character. She really is. She’s going through a tough time in her life, trying to understand her grief, and still learning to accept her boyfriend’s death. Yet, she’s aware that it has also been a year since the accident and she’s tired of people looking at her like a helpless person. She’s tired of the looks and the questions and she just wants some normalcy back in her life again. So, she hatches this plan of different things that she would like to have happen to her during the school year. On the top of the list is the idea that she will capture the heart of her long-time crush and one of the most popular boys in school, Ryan. In order to get closer to Ryan, she also starts hanging out with his cousin Max, which also results in her joining the Quiz Bowl team. Spending time with Max causes her to actually start to break out of the shell that she had put herself in for so long and actually forces her to try new things. She slowly begins to realize just how much she has been holding back since her boyfriend’s death, and just how much more of life there is out there for her to enjoy. It was really a wonderful scenario to read about.
There are also so many more positive things I could say about Max. Whenever he was on the page, I usually wound up with a goofy grin on my face. He’s so adorable. Like, I wanted to hug him, and all of his nerdy geekiness. Emery Lord’s descriptions of him, his clothing, and his responses to both Paige and Ryan were spot on. I loved the relationship between the two cousins. You could tell that they were close and that they always had each other’s backs. But his relationship with Paige was by far my favorite. I loved the way he spoke to her, teased her, pushed her to better, and just simply listened to her. Even though they were complete opposites in many ways, I think he really got her in a way that no one else in her life did. He literally came into her life at the perfect time and the bond that was formed between them really was one for the YA record books.
Another thing I really enjoyed about The Start of You and Me was the friendship between Paige, Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan. These girls were so real. They didn’t feel contrived at all. I believed in them and their friendships. I liked how there were moments of tension between them which were not overblown into dramatic fights. Friends have misunderstandings but that doesn’t mean that it is the end of the friendship. Sadly, I think that is something that you often see too much in the YA world. A simple misunderstanding breaks up year of friendship. So honestly, it was so nice to see a book where female friendships are represented so well. I really liked the dynamics that were at play here. Trust me, Emery Lord gets it when she’s describing close life-long friendships. I could see myself and my friends in those girls, and it just felt right.
There also a lot of smaller elements in the story which I feel also deserve recognition including Paige’s relationship with her grandmother, the events of the Quiz Bowl team, Paige’s relationship with her parents and sister, and Paige’s interactions with Ryan. All of these things painted a beautiful picture of a young girl re-finding herself and allowing herself to be really happy again. They take the reader on a fabulous journey which a part of me never really wanted to end. But I was also very happy with the way that everything was wrapped up too because there were no open endings, just more possibilities. I think that is one of the strongest messages which comes from The Start of Me and You: the idea that you shouldn’t give up or allow yourself to wallow too deeply because you never know what other possibilities may be out there for you and sometimes the places you find them are often the most unexpected. Oh, and don’t worry Emery Lord, your spot on my book shelf is permanently secure no matter what comes next. No more fear coming from me over here, I’m definitely a fan for life!