The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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?
What I Liked:
I never read Open Road Summer, but I hear it's a great road-trip book. I LOVE road-trip books. I don't read nearly enough of them though. I want to read Lauren Barnholdt's road-trip book. Anyway. I never read Emery Lord's smashing debut, despite its instant popularity. I was sent a review copy of this book (unsolicited), and so I decided to give it a try. I liked what I read.
Paige is known as That Girl Whose Boyfriend Died. Her boyfriend of two months, Aaron, drowned about a year ago. Paige is ready to try new things during this new school year. She wants to start swimming again, join a new group, and date Ryan Chase. But going into a pool know scares Paige, she joined Quiz Bowl, and Ryan seems interested in her friend Tessa... not to mention that Ryan's cousin Max is really nice. Dorky, but nice. Plus Paige has other problems, like her divorced parents dating. Doesn't a girl have enough problems already?
One thing I really liked about this book is the depth of the relationships, and not just a boy-girl in love (or "in like") type of relationship. There are so many friendships in this book, as well as a sister-sister relationship, parent-daughter relationship, etc. The author does a great job of developing and challenging these characters and their relationships.
I especially liked Paige's relationship with her female friends (Tessa, Morgan, Kayleigh... I might be missing one. Or maybe not. Actually, I think it's just three of them. I'm unsure though). FINALLY, a Young Adult that has a group of girls who are friends and who are friends that aren't in competition with one another. It always seems that way in YA books, whether the authors mean it or not. In this book, the girls really love each other and care about each other and look out for each other. Tessa and Paige happen to be crushing on the same guy (Ryan), but Paige doesn't actually like him like she thinks she does (you'll see).
Which brings me to the romance. I really liked the romance in this book. Paige begins the book wanting her old childhood crush, Ryan, to like her back and they fall in love and ride off into the sunset. But she meets his cousin Max, and they develop a friendship. They're both total nerds - the bond started in English class, and then Paige joined Quiz Bowl (I WAS IN QUIZ BOWL IN HIGH SCHOOL! All four years. I was even the captain!), Paige is comfortable around Max from the start, whereas she gets tongued-tied and embarrassed around Ryan.
I love how the romance progresses. Literally there is no physical ROMANCE until the very end of this book, but the entire book is charged with emotions and unrequited feelings and love. It's so great how the author constructs a contemporary romance story without the two main characters ever really touching or talking about their feelings or giving each other major signals. And yet, both of them know, eventually. It was very believable, and incredibly powerful.
There are so many subplots within the plot, and I love how every little thing ties together and intersects throughout the story. Paige's parents, Paige's relationship with her sister, with Max, with her friends, her experience with Quiz Bowl, her English class... I like how everything comes together. The ending is really sweet. Like, right down to the end, everything is so sweet. I liked this one!
What I Did Not Like:
I definitely wanted more (of the physical nature) from Paige and Max, but that's just me. I should just go read an adult book, right? In any case, there's plenty of development in their relationship, on the emotional side. But it's like they aren't attracted to each other at all, which is kind of important to me. Ideally, I would want my ideal man to be someone I both love and am attracted to physically (and intellectually and emotionally, etc.) I don't think Max and Paige are disgusted with each other physically or anything. And I'm not saying they have to be supermodels or anything. But I don't think they're physically attracted to each other. Which makes me sad. But no relationship has it all, I suppose!
Would I Recommend It:
Contemporary fans will LOVE this book. Heck, I'm not even a contemporary fan, but I liked this one a lot. It's a great mix of tough-issue contemporary and sweet romance. I can see why everyone loves this author - she creates a wonderful, likable story. Wonderful, lighthearted fluffy read!
4 stars. I'll be looking out for more of this author's books in the future! And hey, I might read Open Road Summer. So much contemporary though. We shall see.
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