Release Date: March 31st, 2015
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 loved the friendship (and was slightly jealous of it), I enjoyed the sweet romance, I adored the fandom references, etc. I just felt like there was a piece missing, and I still can't place it, but it left me happy with the book but not in the way that I was after Open Road Summer."
Disclaimer: I traded another ARC for this one. I was going to wait for the final copy to arrive, but I've been anticipating this book too much! Thanks Skye @ Skye's Scribblings.
I've been putting off this review for a while because I don't know how I want to organize my thoughts. I went into The Start of Me and You with really high expectations. For the most part, it delivered, but this wasn't better than Open Road Summer for me (I know, I know. I shouldn't compare, but I can't help it).
The three things I love most about Emery Lord's writing is her ability to write flawed but completely relateable characters, amazing friendships I wish I had, and slow burning romances. The Start of Me and You certainly carried all of those. The one that stood out to me the most in the book was the friendship between the girls. Oh man, I wish I had a friend group like theirs. Lord is able to write friendships in which there are certainly conflicts but in which the girls never tear one another down. They're there for one another, and their bond is just so damn strong. It isn't a competition between them, and they all support one another. This is such a refreshing take on friendships because it's so rare to see that, and I think we all need a little more of that in the bookish community. I love books where girls build one another up rather than tear one another down, and as someone who cares more about friendship than romance, I absolutely adore how Lord writes friendship into her books.
Then, there are the relateable characters. Paige was relateable in a way Reagan in Open Road Summer wasn't. I would say Reagan has more of my internal insecurities, but I'm much more like Paige in personality and in other areas. We could really see and feel her pain but also how she just wants to move on. She's quirky and funny in a subtle way, and I really connected to saying she's not as smart as people think/say she is. She goes through such a transformation throughout the book, finally coming to see her true self and embracing it rather than hiding it.
I also loved the fandom references and the little things Lord put into the novel that nerds and geeks like us/me can enjoy. Way to represent! And it wasn't just Paige that was relateable; I could, in some ways, relate to Max, in fewer ways Ryan, etc. Emery Lord just has a way of writing such real, complex characters. These are people, complicated, fascinating people, just like all of us. It's hard not to feel for the different characters because it was so easy to see myself in their shoes.
The plot is a bit more slowly paced, as is the romance, but I actually liked that about the book. Things don't just happen; it takes time for thing, people, relationships to develop, and I really got a sense of that in The Start of Me and You. The romance was predictable (though most romances in most books are too), but I actually liked the slow build. It felt right for the characters and their personalities. It was nice for me because I could see so much of myself in both Paige and Max, and it's so comforting to see people like them getting into a relationship. It gives me such hope. I think the romance and the build would have worked better without it being told in the blurb that Max comes in. It kind of undermines the whole get-Ryan-to-date-her thing because we know the direction the plot/book is going in, even more so than if we had just had the book to read without the blurb.
I really did enjoy and love The Start of Me and You, but after putting it down, I felt like there was just something missing. I don't know if it was because I had such high expectations and I was subconsciously comparing the book to Open Road Summer, but I think the slowness of it ended up dragging me down a bit, even though I thought it made perfect sense for the book and the characters. I loved the friendship (and was slightly jealous of it), I enjoyed the sweet romance, I adored the fandom references, etc. I just felt like there was a piece missing, and I still can't place it, but it left me happy with the book but not in the way that I was after Open Road Summer. Either way, I will still definitely be pre-ordering Emery Lord's next book and the book after that and the book after that...I just love her writing, and she does so well with writing friendships, (female) characters, romances, etc. I can't wait for whatever is to come!