Publishing Info: March 31, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 15, 2014
Related Posts: Open Road Summer, When We Collided
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, 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?
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.
I think a lot of people’s reviews for this book will start the same way: “After falling in love with Open Road Summer, I didn’t know if this book could live up to it.” It’s a very hard part about reading a sophomore novel from a favorite author, and really there are only two ways it can go: Either the 2nd book is just as good, or it doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the favorite. I went into THE START OF ME AND YOU with very high expectations and unfortunately, it didn’t QUITE live up to what I hoped it would be BUT I still definitely enjoyed it a lot.
Everything about this book was truly wonderful but I just found myself not connecting as much with Paige and her friends as much as I had with Reagan and Dee — and the same goes for the romance. Weird, right? You would think that I would connect more with this kind of nerdy girl who has a crush on the popular hot guy and falls for the nerdy guy instead, but somehow I connected with the pop and country music stars *shrug* I’m not sure what it was but I think OPEN ROAD SUMMER just came more alive to me and felt like it popped off the pages more and for some reason it just took me longer to get there with Paige and THE START OF ME AND YOU. But okay, enough comparing. I really don’t like comparing two totally different novels by the same author because they’re not the same, but alas. It’s what we do.
Paige was a really great character. After her boyfriend died, she was forever labeled by that event so THE START OF ME AND YOU shows her attempt to move on with her life — but think about it. That’s no easy feat and there’s plenty of guilt just by thinking about trying to shirk that title even though it’s something that Paige really needs to do to start living her life. I felt like her internal struggles were very realistic and although we may not go through the exact same events, I could definitely relate to this constant debate of doing what she really, truly wants to do and still balancing her friends, her family, and school. It’s not only a struggle that a lot of teens have but really anyone at any age can appreciate and I thought Paige handled everything extremely admirably and I loved watching her grow throughout this book!
I wasn’t as big of a fan of the friendships in this book and it’s sort of something that just dawned on me as I was writing the review — groups of more than three girl friends are very hard for me to connect to as realistic. Why? I truly have no idea and it’s totally a personal thing for me as a reader (I guess I really only had two close girl friends at one time in high school/college…?) and nothing really with how Emery Lord portrayed this friendship, which really is a great group of girls. I think at times in with so many female characters involved, they all have to come off as very different to stand out and not blend together so I think it’s hard for me to connect with so many strong or colorful personalities or hobbies and have them feel very realistic. Again, totally a “me” thing — I know plenty of people who just loved this friendship as much as Reagan and Dee in ORS (there I go comparing again…) BUT if you notice yourself feeling like that too, maybe something you’ll notice as well.
What I DID really enjoy and connect with was how Paige’s group of friends and Ryan & Max’s group of friends ended up melding together. I loved seeing the friends really get along and not even just because of romantic interests (although obviously that’s initially how it starts) — once these characters start hanging out, the friendships just feel so natural and I love seeing groups of guys and girls because those were some of my favorite times in high school. That blend of personalities really brings the events in the book to life.
The romance was super sweet too! I definitely loved Max (oh, yes, a nice nerdy boy) and it was also really interesting to see that slow realization in Paige and how she felt towards him and not even a strong initial crush. I really loved how I was wondering if she really would end up with Ryan somehow or if things were supposed to swing to Max (obviously as a reader, I was led towards Max and was rooting for him!) because the friendship that developed between Paige and Ryan was also very genuine and he wasn’t just some stereotypical popular guy who turned out to be a total jerk once Paige got to know him. Definitely interesting to see how these story lines were carefully woven!
THE START OF ME AND YOU was very sweet and lots of fun to read (QuizBowl! What an awesome idea and so great to incorporate) and it was another very solid contemporary from Emery Lord. I know I said it didn’t take over as my favorite from OPEN ROAD SUMMER but I still REALLY enjoyed this book (obviously a teeny tiny bit of sadness that I wasn’t AS blown away) but I know that was more of a personal connection than content because Emery Lord really is a master! She’s definitely an insta-buy author for me and I can’t wait to read many more books from her because I know they will continue to wow us!
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Paige // Character Obsessions: Her list, Ryan, Quizbowl, her family (esp Grandma).
I really admired Paige. On many different levels, it’s not easy being the girl whose boyfriend died, and on top of everything, she has to figure out how overcome some of her bigger fears and start living life to its fullest potential. She just felt very genuine to me and although I didn’t connect with her on every level, I really saw eye-to-eye with her a lot.
Kept Me Hooked On: Nerdy love interests. I love the hot-nerd love interest. Emery Lord definitely made Max intellectual, a bit nerdy, adorable, cute, caring, and the perfect all-around guy!
Left Me Wanting More: Investment. I wasn’t AS invested as I hoped I would be. I still loved the book but there was just a little something missing for me that prevented me from falling head over heels.
THE START OF ME AND YOU was a wonderful read. I have no doubt that readers will fall in love with all of Emery’s book and this one is no exception. I didn’t get as personally invested as I had hoped but I still really loved everything about it.
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