The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Format: ARC, 373 pages
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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?
Last year I fell in love with Emery Lord’s writing and characters in Open Road Summer. I had high expectations for The Start of Me and You and it exceeded every one of them.
Paige was a great protagonist. I sympathized with her over the death of her boyfriend and I understood her need to move on. She was tired of getting The Look. She was tired of being known as the Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned. That might make her sound callous, but she wasn’t. She missed him, but she was also in a strange position because they hadn’t been dating that long when he died. Yet, their relationship and his death was what most people knew about her. She felt strange moving on, but she felt even weirder taking the sympathy reserved to those people closest to Aaron. Because it was beautifully-written, I felt all of this. I love when I can connect with a character and get inside their head at the beginning of a story. That was definitely the case here.
There’s no denying part of this book is romance, but it’s so much more than that. It was definitely more about Paige finding herself and taking risks to become the person she wanted to be than it was about her finding love. From dealing with Aaron’s death and how it’s affected her to her taking a big step towards her desire to go to film school, it really was all about Paige and her growth. I’m a sucker for romance, but I enjoy character growth just as much. I had the best of both worlds here.
Paige’s crush on Ryan was cute, but it was pretty obvious from the start that he wasn’t going to be the guy for her. Don’t get me wrong – he was a nice kid. I was glad they became friends, but something about the idea of them together never really worked for me. Ryan’s geeky cousin Max, on the other hand? I loved him and his Firefly shirt right from the very start. I loved how he took time to get to know Paige. There was a spark between them. I loved their banter. They were cute together. I was shipping them hard from the very beginning, before Paige even realized she might have more than just simply friendly feelings for him.
In a book world full of friends behaving badly, Emery Lord rises above it and gives amazing friendships. I loved Paige’s circle. Her friendships with Morgan, Kayleigh and Tessa were something special. No, it wasn’t always perfect between them, but what friendship is? What matters most is that they were they for each other when needed. So much of it reminded me of my circle of friends from high school. These friendships rang so true. Forget the books with the competition between friends and the snarky backstabbing. I’d rather read about true friendships any day of the week.
One of the other things that makes The Start of Me and You stand out from the pack in young adult lit is the parents in the book. So often parents are absent or removed. Paige’s parents are divorced, but dating each other again, so there’s some strain, but they’re still around. It’s obvious they both have her best interests (and those of her sister) at heart. It’s nice to read about parents that are involved. I also loved Paige’s relationship with her grandma. She definitely pushed her to follow her dreams and when it felt like her own mom didn’t understand her, grandma was there. They had a special relationship.
The Start of Me and You was a fantastic read. It had it all. I appreciated the focus on friendship and family. I loved all the characters. I loved Paige’s journey during the story. The romance was swoony. There were plenty of feels, but none of them were overwhelming. I laughed and got a bit teary eyed. I’d love to catch up with these characters a few months or a year down the road and see how life is treating them, but I also liked that it was all left fairly open-ended. They’re high schoolers. They have a lot of life left to live.
This is exactly what I want in a young adult book. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.