Publisher: Walker Children's.
eBook, 353 pages.
Release date: April 15th 2014.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
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.
Reagan O’ Neill and her best friend country superstar Lilah Montgomery (Dee to her friends) could not be more different. A wild child with a penchant for rebellion, Reagan likes to date bad boys, has a quick, usually snarky, answer for just about anyone, and she never, ever lets her guard down. Dee, on the other hand, is a sunny sweetheart who fell for her first love Jimmy years before. On paper, Reagan and Dee are such opposites that their friendship shouldn’t work; but it does. Reagan and Dee have been friends forever and are there for each other through thick and thin. When we meet the two, both girls are a little bit bruised; Dee is nursing a recently broken heart, while Reagan’s pain is physical, the constant reminder of a relationship gone badly wrong. Reagan needs an escape, Dee needs her best friend, and so, as Dee embarks on a city-wide tour of the US, Reagan joins her for what will be a summer of fun and friendship on the road.
Dee’s image is squeaky clean and she is a consummate professional, so this tour should be scandal-free plain sailing. However, the media who built her up, are eager to find a chink in Dee’s perfect armor and when some seemingly-explicit photos of the teenage country superstar surface, it’s time to consider a plan of action. Enter Dee’s friend Matt Finch, formerly of The Finch Four, and now in need of a career re-boot. What better way to get the paparazzi off Dee’s tail than to offer them a flirty fauxmance with a very cute guy? Ever-cool Reagan rolls her eyes at Matt’s country charm, but even she has to admit there’s something about the guy who is pretending cozy up with her BFF…
Open Road Summer is all round cute coming-of-age-best-friends-on-the-road summer read that just begs to be soundtracked to Taylor Swift. This one is not so much as road-trip book as a ‘Life on the Road’ book, so don’t expect to see too much pretty scenery on the way. Trust me, though, the arrival of Matt Finch, and his laidback love of lost, lazy days and midnight swims, makes up for a lack of road-trip adventure.
I admit that my attention was drawn to Open Road Summer almost purely because of blogger hype, and don’t you just love it when that happens? This book is all about friendship, the highs and lows of it, the always-being-there-for-each-other and the awful things you say in the heat of the moment that nobody could ever forgive –nobody, that is, but a best friend. I loved Reagan and Dee’s very real friendship; all too often female friendships in books just don’t ring true – they are either entirely sugarcoated or too-heavy-on-the-drama. Sure, Reagan and Dee have their fair share of drama, but it’s never overdone. Emery Lord gets it just right, from the love they have for each other, to their shared memories, to the petty jealousies and grudges between them that sometimes rear their ugly little heads.
As for Matt Finch? This guy is sa-woon! I know, I know, I recently read The Truth About Forever, and now I can’t stop describing all the hot book boyfriends in sa-woony terms. And Matt Finch is definitely sa-wooony; he writes songs, and he is honest and charming and sensitive and funny and good-looking. And he has nice hair. Nice hair is always a bonus. Reagan, though, is instantly suspicious of Matt’s presence on the tour, thinking that he may just be Dee’s misfortune as an opportunity to further his failing career. But we know, and deep down so does Reagan, that’s not what Matt’s all about.
It’s also pretty clear from the get go that Matt is quite taken with Reagan’s own very peculiar brand of charm. Reagan is a fabulously-written character; complex and cool, some might find Reagan difficult to warm to – I did at first. But to know this girl is to love her, and on finishing this book, I pretty much think she’s the best. Reagan needs to learn to like herself; she needs to learn that she’s worthy of love.
Hurt, heartbreak and grief; Open Road Summer deals with all of these themes, and yet this book is somehow so feelgood and happy making; a beautiful sunburst of a book that shines with laughter and light and hope. Beautifully written this is the perfect book for anyone who enjoyed the awesomeness that is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. It’s also made Emery Lord the latest addition to my auto-buy author list and I’m already counting down the days to her next book The Start of Me & You coming in 2015.