Review: The Start of Me and You 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: The Start of Me and You by Emery LordThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on March 31, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamicsThe 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?

Emery Lord debuted incredibly strongly with Open Road Summer. Her debut proved her talent in writing character, friendship, and romance. I loved it so much that Bloomsbury actually put my blurb on the back of the ARC. (Shameless bragging I know, but it’s never happened before and I’m excited!) The Start of Me and You has all of those same qualities in spades. In fact, I think The Start of Me and You actually manages to improve upon Open Road Summer, with its heartfelt look at family, its beautiful character arcs,, and its message of embracing life. Emery Lord has done it again.

Paige Elizabeth Hancock is tired of That Look. She’s tired of being defined as the girl whose boyfriend drowned. Even though it’s been two years, everyone knows about Aaron, so she’s seen as a grieving widow, even though they’d only been together for a couple of months. Going into her junior year, Paige wants to finally finish grieving and get a fresh start. With this in mind, like any good planner, Paige makes a list of goals: 1) go to a party 2) join a group 3) date 4) travel & 5) swim.

gif new beginning

The Start of Me and You is a romance at its heart, but there’s a lot of other things going on here. For all that the ship is central, there’s very little actual romance in it. Though it feels fluffy, The Start of Me and You gets pretty sad sometimes too. Emery Lord excels at really building lives for her characters. It’s not just about Paige’s love life, but also about all of her family relationships, her friendships, and her feelings about Aaron. That’s a lot to handle in one relatively short novel, but Lord gets it done like a boss.

Paige starts off on the list like the goal-oriented girl she is, expecting to be a better her by the time she hit the end of it. She finds, as all of us do, that life isn’t that simple. What she thinks she wants isn’t necessarily going to be what she needs, and she can’t rush to acceptance. It’s a process. Life is a process. We’re all of us constantly growing, changing, and learning from our inevitable and plentiful mistakes; at least, we’re learning if we’re wise enough to pay attention. What I love so very much about The Start of Me and You is that in pretty much every character we get to know at all, this is so evident. Heck, we even get a small window into Ryan’s ex-girlfriend who makes a brief appearance. These characters are so dynamic, and the arcs are powerful.

Years before the book began, Paige’s parents got together. It was a painful time, but Paige was glad that they got divorced, because they were so much healthier and happier apart. More to the points, they were better parents apart. At the beginning of the novel, they drop the bombshell that they’re dating. Each other. It’s supposed to be the dream of every kid whose parents are divorced right?

gif divorce parent trap

For Paige, it’s not. Paige doesn’t take the news well, and, as much as she is really built to, rebels. She’s very much not supportive. This leads to fights with her younger sister, who takes a more Hayley Mills or Lindsay Lohan approach to parental reunion. The Hancocks are a very loving and believable family, but they have their issues to resolve. When the novel closes, things aren’t perfect, but they never can be; they are, however, hopeful.

Even more than those family relationships, I adored Paige’s with her grandmother. Paige tells her Grammy everything. Though Grammy’s memory is going, Paige will tell her over and over, because that’s how much she loves her and respects her advice. Her Grammy is a real hero for her. Their relationship is so sweet and a little bit sad. Also, Grammy is such a shipper, which I love her for forever.

The friendships too are a thing of a beauty. Paige has three close friends: Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan. Tessa and Paige are besties, as are Kayleigh and Morgan, but the group as a whole is very solid. That doesn’t mean that jealousies and fights don’t crop up, because of course they do, but they always get dealt with. Bottom line: they’re always there to support one another. The way the heroine in Open Road Summer reacted to female characters who weren’t her best friend was the biggest issue that I and many others had with Lord’s debut, and nothing remotely similar is present in The Start of Me and You.

In junior year, those four add two new friends: Ryan Chase and his cousin Max Watson. Ryan was Paige’s goal boy for that third goal, dating. Max, who’s also his best friend, quickly becomes one of Paige’s best friends. They bond over literature, grammar, and pop culture. Obviously, I had some amount of feels about this. No, for real, Max is one of my favorite book boys ever. He’s so smart and adorable and nerdy banter like WHOA. While I would have liked a few more chapters of happy coupleness at the end, this book still has one of the hottest non-kiss scenes ever in a book. For the record though, there will actually be kissing, but prepare to do a lot of shouting at the book first.

gif now kiss

My reservations regarding The Start of Me and You are so trivial that some of you will probably laugh at my nitpicking, but I can’t leave them unsaid. Paige is a “Grammar Girl,” though she’s embarrassed by the designation. Yet, this happens: “me and Aaron” (48). It’s in the title too. While the internet is of two minds about whether putting yourself first is grammatically incorrect or just impolite, I really don’t think it’s something a grammar nerd would do. Paige also claims to be a pop culture aficionado, but she didn’t know there was more than one Indiana Jones movie. She’d also never heard of Firefly and didn’t bother to look it up. Small, yes, but they made me question Paige a bit.

Let’s be real, guys. I’ll be reading absolutely anything this woman writes; I don’t care what it is. Any author who can bring the swoon like this is an author I will keep reading.

Favorite Quote:

“In books, sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif hey girl ryan gosling
Because Max is perfect. You adorable nerd with moves, you.

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