The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
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?
This book redeemed contemporary YA for me. I had been in kind of a slump with this genre for a while, but this book...so wonderful! It was the perfect mix of cute romance, great friendships, and enough drama and plot to keep my interest.
Paige's first boyfriend drowned last summer, so the whole town knows her as "the girls who's boyfriend died." She sick of The Look, the sad stares, and everyone feeling sorry for her. She's ready to start living again. She makes a list (a pretty casual, secret one) of things she's going to do this year to get her life back on track - join a club, swim again, date someone, etc. And she's selected Ryan Chase, her original crush, as her target, and perfectly enough, his long time girlfriend has just dumped him. Plus Ryan's cousin Max is back after a few years in private school, and Paige plans to use him as a way to get in with Ryan.
This story is a mix between friend-turned-boyfriend and match-making-gone-wrong, and I loved every second of it. Both boys were very sweet, kind, and caring individuals. Max is super nerdy starting with his love of Quiz Bowl right down to his Firefly t-shirt (swoon...I love that show)! While Ryan is more of the classic heartthrob - athlete, popular, handsome.
Paige's 3 best friends were terrific. I love a book with great friendships. Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan didn't always have perfect friendships, but they felt real. Lord created such great dynamics between them without anything too catty. Their drama added many interesting plot points. You all know plot is key with me, so the extra characters made things more interesting, but not too overloaded.
But even better than the friends, were the parents. Seriously! Paige's parents have been divorced for 5 years, but they're suddenly dating again. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? It totally wasn't. Paige is not at all thrilled by this development, but I appreciated how Emery Lord used this as a way to talk about healthy relationships. It wasn't at all preachy, but it was real. Paige's mom and dad complimented each other so well in their parenting styles. They were there but not overbearing. They were real people. Paige talked to them and they talked to her. Finally, a YA book modeled a positive relationship between parents and teens. It was so refreshing.
The writing in this book was light and easy to read, but so great. I loved being inside Paige's head. Her fears and struggles were real. Her thoughts were authentic. I was routing for her 100% perfect of the time, and I was so pleased with the outcome.
This book had everything - great characters, fun plot, positive relationships, and a great message.
I used to think rewatching and rereading were embarrassingly boring pastimes. But there is something to be said for how comforting it is to already know what happens. There is no such luxury in real life.
My Rating: 5 stars
Understand my ratings.
I read this book as part of my new author challenge. I love Emery Lord now. I need to read Open Road Summer and When We Collide ASAP.