Review: The Map from Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2) by Emery Lord

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Map from Here to There will be available January 7, 2020. 

I noticed that I shelved The Map from Here to There as “To-Read” on Goodreads back in September 2017. I was lucky enough to get an ARC and read this in September 2019. That is a long time to anticipate the book and hype it up. I wish I could say it met my very high expectations, but, unfortunately, it did not. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of enjoyable moments. One of the things I loved about The Start of Me and You were the strong friendships and they were still on display here. Yes, there was some drama and fights, but they worked through them and were always there for each other. There were several funny, bantery moments that I enjoyed, as well. I also liked that Paige’s parents were a strong presence in the book.

There was a lot in this book that didn’t work for me, though. Paige had a lot of issues to work through in the first book and by the end she was starting to figure it out. Instead of her continuing to progress, she had a major relapse back into anxiety and it kind of made all the lessons learned in the first book obsolete. I did find the anxiety stuff relatable, but I would have rather seen Paige continue to grow, instead of spending the majority of yet another book as a mess (and still not communicating it) and then finally growing in the final couple chapters.

Some of the problems I had with this book are probably more my fault than the books, though. I wanted a cute book of Max and Paige being adorable together. Yes, I knew there would have to be some strife, but I thought (hoped) it would be a small part of the plot. Instead, we got very few scenes with them together, unless they were fighting. Paige treated him so, so unfairly and it drove me crazy. He was patient and understanding for awhile, but eventually reached a breaking point where he didn’t handle things well. There is a new character introduced – Paige’s co-worker at the movie theater – that Paige hung out with and talked to like she did Max in the first book. He was also there to stir some jealousy and insecurity in Max. And once that role was played out, we don’t really hear any more about him. Which annoyed me because even though I didn’t like his purpose in the story, he was sweet and funny and I liked him. But back to my original point, the story was much more about the anxiety about growing up and making hard decisions and dealing with change. And this made me feel a little too old for the story. As a cynical adult who has never had a job that utilized her college degree, nor is no longer friends with any of the people she was close to in high school and college, these major crises the characters faced felt a little trivial. I do remember being in high school and thinking these decisions were life and death, so I get it, but I’m just so far past that, that it was kind of hard to take so seriously. I also am not a fan of open-ended conclusions. The biggest focus of the book is where Paige will go to college and the story ends without a definitive answer and that kind of pissed me off.

Another thing that bugged me is that Tess and Ryan aren’t together. I felt it was very heavily implied in the first book that they would get together. I thought her whole arc in the story was how she was all closed off due to her abandonment issues with her parents, but Ryan slowly won her over. Instead, the author decided to fix the lack of LGBT+ diversity from the first book by giving Tessa a girlfriend instead. Not only did I not even get a hint of this in the first book, but it basically skips over the whole coming out part of the book by referencing how it happened in the summer, conveniently between the end of book one and start of book two. Don’t misunderstand, I support a more diverse cast of characters, but it annoyed me to see Tessa with anyone but Ryan.

Overall, The Map from Here to There was just ok for me. I enjoyed parts of it, but had a lot of issues with it, as well. I liked the first book much more, but I think people in the actual target audience age range will appreciate this book much more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

11 thoughts on “Review: The Map from Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2) by Emery Lord

  1. I’ve been waiting for this review… and I agree with it. I wanted that cute Max and Paige book. I mean, I get that you have to have some ups and downs for the story, but I didn’t get enough of them together. It was sad. I’m mad we didn’t get more of answer, too.

    I do have to disagree with one thing — I knew Tessa had a girlfriend or was interested in girls in the first book. It wasn’t a surprise to me at all. I didn’t go back and re-read except for the last few chapters, though. I always just thought of Tessa and Ryan as just friends. Everyone picks up on things differently, so maybe I just did some guessing on that whole thing.

    Great review!

    • Thanks! Maybe I’m just more oblivious than I thought I was when it came to Tessa haha. Looking back, I have seen the whole “no dating high school boys” thing in other books from closeted LGBT+ characters, so that should have been a give away. But I didn’t notice anything else in my re-read that hinted at it. There was one scene in particular where Tessa asks Paige kind of intensely if she seriously liked Ryan or if it was just more of a harmless crush and I took it as her kind of asking permission to like him herself.

      • The first time I read the story, it didn’t have the bonus content yet. When I re-read it before starting the second book, the copy I read did have the letters, and it does mention the stuff with Tessa – and it completely surprised me then. I didn’t mention the letters in my review because I’m a strong believer that bonus content and novellas shouldn’t be necessary to follow a series (I’m fairly certain I had a whole ranty post on the subject years ago haha. It’s one of my pet peeves if you couldn’t tell lol).

  2. Pingback: December 2019 Recap | Stephanie's Book Reviews

  3. Pingback: Most Disappointing Reads of 2019 | Stephanie's Book Reviews

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