Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published by Walker BFYR on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 342
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
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four-half-stars

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

As excited as I was for Open Road Summer, I was also nervous. Highly hyped books often let me down. Plus, I’d heard it was about a country music star (similar to Taylor Swift), and I loathe country music with a fiery passion. With trepidation I embarked on this road trip, but, for once, the book lived up to the hype. I loved Open Road Summer fiercely. The romance is sweet and utterly shippable, but, even more, Open Road Summer is a powerful and touching story of friendship.

Neither Reagan nor Dee (more famously known as Lilah Montgomery) were what I was expecting. Maybe I would have anticipated Dee’s character if I knew anything about Taylor Swift aside from the fact that she’s known for mopey break up songs. Dee, similarly, is on a tour for an album full of songs in which she’s processing her break up from her childhood sweetheart, Jimmy. However, Dee’s not a self-involved, mopey starlet. She’s perky in a way so genuine that she’s impossible to hate. Even better, she’s adorably grumpy when she’s sick. Though her life is absurdly busy, she makes time for her best friend, Reagan, and is so thoughtful of her. So often, YA novel friendships are catty frenemy situations, but Dee and Reagan love one another and legitimately care about each other. Both receive plot lines and character development, and they put their friendship over other relationships. It’s so sweet and adorable.

Where Dee is sunshine and rainbows, Reagan is darkness and trouble. Reagan’s on probation after being found with alcohol underage. Her arm’s in a cast from something terrible, but you won’t find out what for a while. She dresses in low-cut shirts and short dresses or shorts. The old Reagan partied hard and hooked up with cute boys. After a couple of wake up calls, Reagan is trying to make herself anew, but she doesn’t really know how to be. As a way of escaping her old life and getting to spend time with her famous best friend, Reagan goes on tour with Dee.

In almost every way, I love Reagan as a main character. She’s staunchly defensive of her friends, bitter, and smarter than most people give her credit for. She felt one hundred percent real to me. She’s broken, but she’s trying to mend. She’s changing for herself, and for no one else, which is why her transformation seems to believable. Plus, though she transforms, it’s not because of the romance and it doesn’t change the way she is. Reagan’s never going to be a fluffy bunny; she’ll always be snarkastic, but she’ll learn to love and trust more than she can now.

The romance with Matt Finch is freaking adorable. I shipped them pretty much immediately, from the moment he walked in to find Reagan zipped up in Dee’s suitcase (they were seeing if she could fit). The two have this awesome snarky banter, even when they’re at their most lovey-dovey. So yeah, OF FREAKING COURSE I SHIP IT. Their relationship is equal parts sexual attraction and a burgeoning connection built on understanding. They really get to know one another in a real way, and watching them bond is a total squeefest.

Open Road Summer‘s road trip is a fun one. They barely leave the buses, because if the stars get off the bus it will be a mob scene. They go all over the US, but see so little. Lord captures both the adventure and the utter lack of it involved in the tour. It’s a life of such restriction for Dee, despite all the perks. Lord shows how much Dee thrives on it and appreciates her luck, but also the ways it’s hurting her too. The story of Dee and Jimmy wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and is quite touching.

The only aspect of Open Road Summer which I did not love wholeheartedly was the way that Reagan reacted to other girls. Basically any girl who talked to Matt was dismissed in slut-shaming terms, which is cruel and hypocritical. She thinks various snide comments about how low cut their shirts are, while constantly delineating to the reader how low her own tops are. Her possessiveness got old, and I would have liked to see her outgrow that. Of course, that’s going to take a while, because of another plot point which I didn’t like: View Spoiler ».

More than a romance, Open Road Summer is the story of the loving friendship between two girls. This is the sort of book I’ve been waiting for: swoony romance, supportive friendship, and lots of heart and humor. I can’t wait to see what Lord does next.

Favorite Quote:

He’s only nineteen, and I hope he doesn’t see me as too young for him. That would ruin my plans to flirt with himnot to start something up, of course, just to flirt for the hell of it. It’s a law of nature, like a cat with something shiny; dangle it in front of her long enough and eventually she’ll paw at it. Only in this case, I’m the cat and Matt is something shiny. The pawing part is the same.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Taylor Swift dancing

23 responses to “Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord”

  1. Angie F. says:

    I completely brushed this one off because of the country star angle (cannot deal with country music!), but this is the second rave review I’ve read and I think I may give it a try. Reagan sounds like a character I would like, too, and I love that she does go through a transformation, but not for a guy. So refreshing! And I want to know what happened to her arm!

    Since my library got the ebook in the other day, I’ll add it to my wishlist for now. 🙂
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Creators (The Lost Souls, #3) by Tiffany TruittMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Country is anathema to me as well, but, aside from a few references, it’s really not all that country. Not written in dialect or anything. 🙂

  2. This pretty much hit all the points I felt about the book too! I wasn’t a huge fan of how Corrine was used either; that was the one point in the book where I thought, “really? that’s where this is going?” But at least it resolved fairly quickly.

    I think Reagan being so dismissive of other girls was a part of her personality and insecurities from her other relationships. It was natural, but yeah the slut-shaming was pretty awful in some parts.

    Matt Finch <3 The banter made me swoon every time he was on the page!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Yup, I just feel like that did a major disservice to the kind of friendship Corinne and Matt supposedly had. It didn’t fit what we were told about her, and it just seemed like a cheap plot device.

      Reagan’s slut-shaming was the only thing I didn’t like about her, and I was able to get past it, with the proviso that I imagine she’ll learn.

  3. Jaz says:

    Ooooh I’ve been very excited to read this but also nervous because I’ve heard great things but from people who likes this kind of stuff. The fact that you liked it says a lot I think 😀

    I liked how Reagan tried to see if she could fit in Dee’s suitcase. That really sounds like a friendship I want to be part of.

    Awesome review. This book is next on my to-buy list.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Well, I am typically drawn to bantery romances, so I am all about this sort of stuff.

      Their friendships are full of silly things like the suitcase, which is why I love this book so much. 😀

  4. Johannah says:

    I’ve heard so much about this awesome book!!! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
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  5. I’ve been waffling on if I want to read Open Road Summer. I just love the cover, and I continue to hear how wonderful it is. But I really struggle to enjoy road trip books. But you review has really intrigued me. I love to read books about strong female friendships, and although I’m sad to hear that Reagan participates in some slut-shaming, I think I need to give this one a try.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I would say you should give it a try. It IS a road trip book, but at the same time, it’s kind of like they’re just in a single room most of the time. They’re on the buses, and there’s very little to distinguish the different cities. It’s not very traditional road trip.

      Yeah, Reagan definitely slut-shames, but, aside from that, I actually really like her. Hopefully she’ll grow out of that as she gets past her own issues.

  6. Even though my review of this was 2.5 stars (owwwwwwww, my heart), I agree with every word you say and I think our reviews echo each other a lot! Yay for similar opinions despite wildly different ratings. Girl hate in general annoys me more than I think it annoys you (I think?), so Reagan’s serious jealousy issues and girl hate hit me a lot harder. It bothered me so much that it seriously fell from a rating on par with yours all the way down to where it is!

    But Matt? Why helloooooooo, swoony. For once, we agree on a swoony boy. But no, I unship him and Reagan so hard because Reagan’s issues make it impossible for me to want them together; it’s like rooting for a couple when I know they’re going to break up and why it will happen. It’s sad-making. If she can get the fuck over them and go back to him, I’ll ship it hard, but as she is throughout the novel and at the end of it, he deserves better. Someone who understands he’s been famous and to a certain degree, she’ll have to share him with female fans but feels secure enough in her relationship to him to know the giggly girls present no threat to her.

    I swear, I would have liked this soooooo much more if Reagan had talked to/overheard one of the girls she was sneering at and the girl was totally normal. Maybe then it would have occurred to Reagan that hey, she’s being an enormous douche for no reason and maybe she should work on that. And then she worked on it.

    Le sigh. 🙁 It sucks I can see where you’re coming from but at the same time feel so differently because one little element impacted me differently. Whatever. You nailed this review and I hope a lot more people pick Open Road Summer up!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Haha, yeah. I’m not surprised. I was reading and I was like AND THIS is why Ashleigh didn’t like this one. I’ll admit that slut-shaming doesn’t bother me as much as it does you. It’s not something I had any awareness of at all until I befriended book bloggers a couple years ago.

      At the same time, though, I was able to get past it. I mean, I totally get your stance, but I’m hoping Reagan will grow out of it. She’s not had a lot of great relationships of her life. It seems like she’s already made a lot of progress as New Reagan, and I’m hoping that will come next. I suspect a lot of her slut-shaming is actually projection of her feelings about herself/her mother. If she deals with her self-hatred, she might be more accepting of others. Plus, I think her realization that she’d never really suspected Matt of cheating might help. Maybe.

      I mean, girl definitely has some issues to work through, but I am crossing my fingers for them. That’s actually why I hated the Corinne thing, because it totally fed her insecurities and also Corinne’s motivations are like whuuuut.

      But whatever the banter between Matt and Reagan/the chemistry was so good that I’m willing to be optimistic in this case. Plus, I did really love everything about Reagan but her hypocritical shaming about clothes and stuff.

      • Christina Franke says:

        Actually, I think the fact that she can be such a good friend to Dee shows promise. She’s not TOTALLY self-involved. I think, from her conversation with her step-mom and letting Matt in that she’s opening up and learning not everyone will let her down. If she can learn to trust more, she might stop being so judgmental of those girls. You don’t need to be possessive if you trust the other person.

        • Agreed. Had it not been for her awesome, well-written friendship with Dee, I would have ragequit loooooong before Corrine came in (and the only reason I didn’t ragequit there was because I was so close to the end). I wanted to see a little change really start to happen here, I guess. Showing me she is definitely on the road to getting better and all that.

          • Christina Franke says:

            Yeah, the whole Corinne thing derailed a lot of stuff, and that’s the part I really don’t like. I would have preferred a sign she was learning about slut-shaming being bad. However, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, because I didn’t used to know any better myself, and people CAN improve. She’s surrounded by good people, and college might help her like it did me.

  7. Yes I agree so much because the first time I read this book I had all the feelings you had because the friendship between Dee and Reagan is adorable and just so strong and pure throughout the entire book. Matt Finch is so swoony and I really loved the banter and chemistry between him and Reagan. 🙂 Fantastic review, Christina, glad you enjoyed this one! <33
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    • Christina Franke says:

      So funny to see anything about Reagan described as pure, but so true. I also loved that they had that stupid fight and yelled at each other, but came back and were totally supportive. *hugs them*

  8. Rachel says:

    Well look at that. We agree again haha.

    I’ve read a few reviews where people have pointed out the slut-shaming aspect, and I feel kind of terrible saying this, but I honestly didn’t notice it at all. I don’t know if it’s because that kind of language/thinking is common where I live/am from (which I don’t know that it is, but who knows) and I am just desensitized to it or what. But yeah, I didn’t notice that

    MATT FINCH FOR THE WIN.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      No judgment from me on that at all, Rachel. I actually didn’t know slut-shaming was a thing until a couple years ago when I joined the blogging community and got to know Kara/Steph/Ashleigh. That’s what the attitudes were like in pop culture and from a lot of the real life people I knew, so it wasn’t a thing for me at all. I started noticing it as a thing to warn the people who DID care, but now I kind of care. But it’s not a dealbreaker for me the same way it is for them. I know how real that attitude can be, so if I think there’s some chance for change and I loved everything else, as in this case, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

      Matt Finch is wonderful. Genuinely sweet as can be, but still snarky and clever. Basically, he wins the day.

  9. Juhina says:

    i love my snarky banter between the love interest and the main protagonist and I just love the sound of Reagan! I need this book so badly! thanks for the awesome review,

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf
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  10. I can only echo what Ashleigh said! Same thoughts as you, same issue (just one), but it killed my enjoyment so much more than yours. I found Reagan’s constant judgments grating, especially when she would turn around and behave the exact same way. I just couldn’t look past it. I wish she had grown out of that by the end of the book, but it’s completely ignored or even addressed. I really can’t understand what the author was going for there.

    Other than Reagan, I really liked this book. The supporting cast was great, the road trip felt authentic, and the friendship was beautifully, realistically handled.

    Great review!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I pretty much addressed my explanations to Ashleigh’s comments. Basically, I’m giving Reagan the benefit of the doubt, and hoping for her sake she can change now that she’s actively trying to improve herself and is surrounding herself with more supportive people. But I also loved Reagan otherwise. I totally get being in the 2.5 range because of that though.

  11. Katie S. says:

    I loved how even though it surrounded a country music star it wasn’t like country music was being forced upon the reader. The banter between the characters was so perfect! It might be the reason I love this book so much.

    I can totally agree with you on the Reagan’s possessiveness. I found myself internally saying “really Reagan, is that necessary”

  12. I love it when there is a romance with snarky banter! I actually wasn’t planning on reading this book because of the concept with country music, but it sounds better than expected 🙂 If I’m in my rare contemporary mood, I might have to take a look at this one.
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