The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendship, family, grief
Format read: ARC borrowed from Elena @ Novel Sounds. (Thank you!)
Summary: Paige embarks on a plan to move forward from her grief over the death of her first boyfriend and the fears that have manifested since then.
After reading Open Road Summer, I’m always going to look forward to Emery Lord’s books. Why? Because she has a great way of bringing to life the important female friendships of teenage-hood. Sure, romance and family drama is folded into the fictional worlds she creates, but Lord understands that these friendships are the core of our lives. The difference between having strength and backing down when we don’t have the energy or the bravery to move forward on our own just yet.
From the cover and the title, you would be right to assume that The Start of Me and You solely focuses on a romance storyline but more than once during my reading, I found myself questioning both of these details because it was so much more than that. Paige is reeling from the death of her boyfriend and decides the only way to break out of it is to make a to-do list to help her focus. She wants to go out on a date and get comfortable around water again. But before those two, she decides to get involved with the Quiz Bowl club — where her pop culture knowledge will be of use and she finds herself befriending her crush’s cousin, Max.
Max is great. He just is. He’s the kind of boy we dream of meeting. Paige finds him easy to talk to and to joke along with but he’s also the nice boy so as she gets closer to Max, she’s still crushing on his cousin (Ryan) and somewhat intently focused on making that relationship happen. (It became cripplingly embarrassing at a certain point.) There are feelings floating around, but what’s really occurring is the creation of a new friendship circle — bringing together Paige’s best friends, Max, and Ryan. I love how this occurrence was so shocking to our main character but came together so organically at the right time. It’s the kind of love story I want to read about.
Speaking of love, Lord nailed the dynamics between Paige and her best friends. It’s difficult to write about a group like this one and make each girl feel like a real person and not a caricature. There were a few times I got them mixed up but, on a whole, she did well (yay diversity!) and also folded in important issues like naturally comparing between friends, and what happens when a close friend puts her boyfriend ahead of her gals and he’s just… not that great. Growing pains in friendships suck, they do, and I’m glad that Lord doesn’t shy away from them.
All in all, The Start of Me and You is another lovely, lovely book from Lord. Does it top my affection for Open Road Summer? No. It reads a bit younger, the writing wasn’t as layered and crisp, and there were a few too many pop culture references for me but I love how romance is not her big focus here and she works to develop friendships between all of her characters, especially the sweet bond between Paige and her grandmother.