Published by Bloomsbury on March 31st, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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 dynamics The 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?
I really liked Open Road Summer, Emery Lord’s debut last year, though I didn’t quite fall head over heels for it because of the amount of girl hate the book contained. As such, I was a biiit skeptical about The Start of Me and You, especially as the premise also has a pretty heavy grief component, which is usually not my thing. But wow. This book blew me away. From the first page, I was in love, and I know I’ve found a new title for my all-time favorites list.
The Start of Me and You tells the story of Paige, a girl in a small town whose boyfriend of two months died the year before. This becomes the thing that defines her identity, as everyone walks on eggshells around her and she struggles with survivor’s guilt and PTSD. However, this book isn’t remotely as heavy as it sounds. Paige’s trauma is extremely easy to understand and relate to, and the book focuses on her finding happiness once again. She makes a plan of how to move on with her life – for real this time – and has the comfort of the best support system along the way.
A lot of my love for this book is because of the main character, Paige. Though I couldn’t relate to the grief part, in all other ways, it felt like I was looking in a mirror. Paige is an introvert and a planner. She’s pretty insecure and risk averse. She struggles a lot with facing her fears and allowing herself to be happy. It was so easy to get sucked into her narrative. I just wanted to hug her so many times! She was the kind of character I related to so much, I feel like the book taught me some things about myself and how I still have to grow and challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. I longed for my Post It notes because so many of the passages were just so poignant and fitting and so me. I’ll probably be rereading my copy of the book soon enough so I can do just that.
In friendship, we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos. […] Because with true friends, no one is keeping score. But it still feels good to repay them – even in the tiniest increments. The Start of Me and You by Emery LordBut the secondary characters also steal the show. A big part of that is the friendship Paige has with Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan. This friend group is absolutely freaking amazing. They are completely non-judgmental, always supportive, honest, and full of love for each other. It feels like Lord felt she had to make up for the girl hate in her debut novel, and she did all that and more. I’m tired of mean girl antics in YA, so seeing such supportive healthy friendships actually brought tears to my eyes multiple times. I’m not even joking. This book is full of sweetness and happiness and love.
And then… there’s the romance. Oh. My. God. If you like cuteness, slow builds, and an excellent friendship as a foundation, you need this book. If you like cute literary references as a form of flirting, bookstore scenes, adorable nicknames, and bonding over mutual nerdiness, you need this book. If you like secondary characters (including one of the best teachers ever) shipping your ship, you need this book. This romance tried to mislead me at first, but it was such a feelstastic journey which tied perfectly into Paige’s personal journey. And it was so awesome to just see two introverted characters slowly but surely, with much hesitance and insecurity, fall for each other. My ONLY complaint would be that there was hardly enough kissing. I would almost want a sequel just for that.
I also have to give a huge shout out to Paige’s family. Her family’s pretty screwed up: her parents have been divorced for years, but suddenly decide to date again. They too were affected by the death of Paige’s boyfriend, because the thought of losing a child so young is pretty terrifying. Her mother can be quite overbearing, but only because she loves Paige so much. And her dad is sometimes awkward and regrets the past, but is a great listener and comfort. Paige’s little sister can be naive and annoying, but she really looks up to Paige, and Paige gradually learns to accept her the way she is. And above all, Paige’s relationship with her grandmother will almost definitely bring a tear to your eye. Such realistic and complicated characters and relationships take a lot of skill to write, but Lord has excelled, for serious.