Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

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 wasn’t a huge fan of Open Road Summer so I wasn’t expecting much from The Start of Me and You. I am quite pleased to say that it definitely surpassed my expectations and I really enjoyed it!

Paige was dating Aaron for about two months when he tragically drowned on a camping trip. While she mourns his loss and has suffered from some PTSD related nightmares, what she really has trouble coping with is The Look. The way people give her pitying looks and identify her only as the girlfriend of the boy who drowned. She’s ready to really start moving on and being happy again. She makes up a list of things she thinks will help her do this and embarks on the new school year determined to make it happen.

My problem with Open Road Summer is that I felt it tried too hard to be deep and meaningful, while still being a cute contemporary. I think that The Start of Me and You does much better at balancing the cute with the Message. The characters were relatable and likable. The problems were never too melodramatic. The romance, as well as the growing friendships, were a slow burn.

One thing this book does really well is the friendships. Paige has a core group of friends – Tessa, Morgan, and Kayleigh – who are all pretty different, but are always there for each other. That doesn’t mean they don’t ever fight, but they always make up. While there was opportunity for great girl drama (my crush has a crush on my best friend, you’re spending more time with your boyfriend than you are with me, etc.), it never went there and I was really grateful it. There were no frenemies here! While the friendship between Ryan and Max isn’t as explored, we know that they are really close, as well. I also liked how Paige’s and Max’s group of friends converged throughout the book.

I also liked that there was an “adult presence” in the book. So many YA books have completely absent or oblivious parents and that always gets on my nerves. Paige has present parents and she has a realistic relationship with them. I also really liked their English teacher, Ms. Pepper. She provided several humorous moments throughout the book.

The relationship between Paige and Max was very cute, as well. They start out a bit uncomfortable, but slowly become friends. It’s several months before Paige even begins to realize that she may like him as more than a friend. I loved their banter and inside jokes. His nickname for her reminded me of Gansey and Blue from The Raven Boys so while they have nothing to do with each other, I think it endeared them to me more.

The underlining message of it all was about overcoming tragedy to live your life and the journey it takes to get there. I think Lord does a good job of weaving this into the other storylines about Paige’s friends and Max and her grandmother. While there were a few times it almost got a little “preachy” about it, I didn’t feel as brow beaten with it as with Lord’s former book. It seemed much more organic and less forced.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Start of Me and You. The characters were likable and the romance was sweet. The writing was often humorous and I found myself smiling a lot while I was reading. I would definitely recommend this to fans of YA Contemporary.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: September

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1)

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks. Read September 3-11. 2.5 stars.

Not as good as I was expecting. Much of it was clichéd and predictable, but I’ll still probably check out the next book. 

This is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. Read September 11-13. 3 stars.

This book was ok. It was cute, but not as cute as I was expecting it to be. The characters weren’t always likable and I really disliked Ellie’s mother. Surprisingly, I was ok with the open ending (I usually despise them), it was probably the most well done part of the book.

Ten

Ten by Gretchen McNeil. Read September 19-20. 2.5 stars.

2.5 stars, I think. For awhile I thought this was a 2 star read. All but the three central characters were forgettable and it seemed really predictable. While I entertained the possibility of others being the killer, I was pretty sure who it was. However, I was wrong. So I was going to give it 3 stars, just because it surprised me. But then the end… *SPOILER* *SPOILER* *SPOILER* In the end Meg lives and TJ survived being shot (which was so very clichéd) and Meg is like, “My best friend and 9 other people died, but at the end of the day it’s ok because I got the guy.” Ugh.

Open Road Summer

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. Read September 19-21. 3 stars.

This book was both cute and frustrating. The main character was not very likable and I think too much time was spent on her trying to draw deep, emotional conclusions about life that really weren’t that deep. I wish Dee was a little more developed because she was likable yet lacked substance. I, of course, loved Matt Finch, though he had a few moments that annoyed me. Overall, a cute book, but I think it would’ve been better if it focused on being cute instead of trying too hard to be something more serious.

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3)

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy #3) by Sarah Rees Brennan. Read September 23-24. 3-ish stars.

One day a full review will be coming for this book. While I wouldn’t say it was disappointing, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I think I’m going to re-read it before I try and review it.

Rule (Marked Men, #1)

Rule (Marked Men #1) by Jay Crownover. Read September 26-27. 2 stars.

2 stars is being generous. The characters were mostly unlikable. The plot was often ridiculous. I don’t know why I continue to try and read New Adult books. It’s obviously not my cup of tea. 

Stay with Me (Wait for You, #3)

Stay With Me (Wait for You #3) by J Lynn. Read September 25-28. 2 stars.

I love JLA and that’s the only reason I’m giving this book 2 stars and not 1. The story of Jax and Calla were pretty similar to Cam and Avery (Calla even calls Jax “Cam 2.0” at one point) and the rest of it was pretty ridiculous. I seriously need to just stop with the New Adult genre. It’s all the same and this series, that I started out liking with the first book, just seems like repeat with slightly different characters and slightly different “big horrible problems”. 

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

Resisting the Hero (Accidentally in Love, #3)

Resisting the Hero (Accidentally in Love #3) by Cindi Madsen. I really liked the first book in this series, but the second wasn’t quite as good and I couldn’t really get into this one. I’ll probably go back and try again later, though.

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RE-READS

Storm (Elemental, #1)  Spark (Elemental, #2)  The Best Man (Blue Heron #1)  The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2)

Storm (Elemental #1), Spark (Elemental #2), The Best Man (Blue Heron #1), The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2). In honor of Sacrifice (Elemental #5) and In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4), I started a re-read of the first couple books of each series.