Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, 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? (from Goodreads)
I finished The Start of Me and You with tears in my eyes, because I had fallen so in love. My heart was full of all of the feelings Emery Lord evoked with her words. The Start of Me and You has certainly cemented my adoration of her writing + her novels, and there's nothing I'd like more than to revisit them over and over again.
The biggest reason why I fell so hard for The Start of Me and You was because of the main character: Paige Hancock. Unlike Reagan (who I loved, but was so different from me), I identified so well with Paige. It's not even just her personality (though we do share a love of books + coffee + care deeply for our loved ones); it was the things she went through, the emotions she felt. I've only ever felt like this two other times (with this book, and this one), so it was a real treat to feel like this character was living through things I could 100% relate to.
Paige's story in The Start of Me and You is one of starting over. She's closed a chapter of her life, and decided that it's time to start a new one - and she even creates a list of goals to complete. It's the type of experience many of us have, whether it is of our own volition or forced upon us, and Emery Lord captures well the trials and triumphs of starting a new chapter. Paige has good moments and bad days alike, and I really loved that she's real and flawed as she goes through it all.
While Paige is trying to find her footing in this new phase of her life, she's lucky to be surrounded by an amazing support system. She's got a supportive, loving family environment, parents who care and a sister who does too (even though she might not always show it). She's got awesome best friends - Tessa, Kayleigh, Morgan - who are seriously cool, strong girls, and who are always there for each other no matter what. And she finds a new set of friends with her Quiz Bowl teammates (Malcolm & Liz), and her long-time crush Ryan, and his cousin Max. In Open Road Summer, Emery Lord has a knack for bringing even her secondary characters to life, and it's definitely true in The Start of Me and You too! I cared about each and every one of these people, and not just in relation to Paige.
Apart from the more serious aspect of The Start of Me and You, there's also a lot of adorable moments stuffed in there. I couldn't help smiling at some of the cute things that happened, or the fun moments Paige experienced every now and then! Emery Lord certainly managed to balance both parts (serious & fun) in just the right way, enough to make me feel like she never neglected one or the other.
Personally, I connected so much to The Start of Me and You, which is why I loved it so much. Though admittedly, I think the writing flowed just the teensiest bit more smoothly in Open Road Summer, I still loved The Start of Me and You with my whole heart. Paige Hancock is forever a character that will remain with me, and I definitely wouldn't mind revisiting her journey over and over again in the years to come.
Bottom line? You should read The Start of Me and You. Period.
(Also, seriously, I think I need Max Weston to also exist in real life. Come on now, Emery, do share Max and Matt Finch with the rest of us! *winks*)