Monday 4 April 2016

Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord.

Product details:
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's.
Paperback, 344 pages.
Release date: April 7th 2016.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

 Bursting with exuberance, energy and a true lust for life, seventeen-year-old Vivi Alexander shines a light on the lives of all those around her, engaging in witty conversation, and generally living a life filled with fun times and awesome vintage clothes. When Vivi meets Jonah, a resident of Verona Cove, the sleepy Californian town where’s she’s spending a summer with her artist Mom, she’s immediately drawn to him. And it’s not only because he’s hot (which he is). It’s not only because he’s super close with his little sister (Also true). Sure, Vivi is draw to Jonah because of these things, but there’s something else too…Vivi senses that Jonah needs a little fun in his life, which means he needs a little Vivi in his life. And if kissing happens along the way, well, that’s all good too.

On reading Emery Lord’s excellent debut Open Road Summer way back in 2014 (Matt Finch, you have my heart!) I immediately added this talented author to my auto-buy list. Note: I don’t actually have a list where I write the names of all my auto-buy authors, said list exists only in my head. Anyway, Emery Lord is on it. Want to know who else is on the list? Maybe I’ll write an actual post sometime. So, yeah, I was super excited when I read that Lord, with this book, would be published in the UK and Ireland. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think When We Collided is Lord’s first UK/IRE publication, before that it was expensive US Hardbacks all the way. So, you all need to read this one. Emery Lord writes books that are so open and honest and beautiful and true. Also, the boys are always crazy hot.

Like Jonah*. Oh Jonah. Jonah’s had a hard time. We meet him a few months after the death of his beloved dad. Jonah’s Mom is not coping at all, so it’s left to Jonah and his siblings to look after everything; they take care of all household duties and their younger siblings, while also holding down various full and part-time jobs. It’s a lot. Too much. And it’s been getting Jonah down. He needs to have a little fun, he really does, and lately he hasn’t been able to do that. But now Vivi’s here to brighten up his days – and his nights. Vivi and Jonah fall for each other hard and fast, but there’s a dark undertone to their summer of love: because Vivi has been keeping secrets. And secrets like Vivi’s, well, they can be dangerous.

Emery Lord always spills her heart onto the pages of her books (one of the reasons her books are so, so good!) and that’s really evident here in a book that is honest and true and truly beautiful with it. The depiction of Vivi’s mental illness and her gradual descent into darkness is powerful, and has to be one of the best depictions of mental illness that I have read in YA. I know that this is a theme that’s explored over and again in YA, but I think that a lot of books either miss the mark, or go for complete overkill.  When We Collided is a powerful book because it’s so real. It’s not overblown or underdone – it’s just right.

If you love YA contemp and you haven’t yet checked out Emery Lord, then I highly recommend her books. While Open Road Summer has a special place in my heart, this beautifully written story of hope, love, sadness and loss is her strongest book to date. I can’t wait for more from this talented author.

*Another great thing about Jonah: he is an amazing cook and I would really like this opportunity to ask Emery Lord to produce a When We Collided spin-off cookbook entitled ‘Recipes from Verona Cove’ by Jonah Daniels.  The title is totally negotiable, btw.

Here’s an example of how Jonah’s mad kitchen skills will make you swoon for the boy:

“Viv, I just made you wild-caught Alaskan salmon baked with mango chutney, on a bed of garlic red potatoes and arugula. While talking about an Audrey Hepburn movie. I think you are maybe falling in love with me. “

I think so too Jonah. I think so!

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