(No actual dueling—or even arm-twisting—was involved. Don’t worry, this is a dual review, not a duel review. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)
Danielle Hammelef was the latest winner of my Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up “Make Me Read It” giveaway, and she chose to make me read The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. I’ve been wanting to read more Lord ever since I read (and LOVED) The Names They Gave Us, so I was excited about this selection! I read the book and then sent it along to Danielle, and we did a dual review together.
Read on to see what we thought of the book…
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Series: The Start of Me and You #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on March 1, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some talk of sex)
It's been one year since it happened...
When Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in a swimming accident, she shut out almost everyone. Now Paige has decided it's finally time to rejoin the world, and she has a plan. First on the list: go out with Ryan Chase, her longtime and newly single crush. And last on the list: swim. Terrifying, yet possible?
But when Ryan's sweet, nerdy cousin Max moves to town and recruits Paige for the QuizBowl team (of all things!), her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Starting over isn't easy, but Paige knows the scariest things are usually the most difficult. Can she face her fears and open herself up to life and love again?
This book is a wonderful contemporary romance with a strong focus on friendships and a hearty dose of lovable, nerdy characters. Both Danielle and I really enjoyed it!
What Fed Our Addiction:
An unexpected romance. I love that Paige finds a romance she isn’t looking for, because those are so often the best kind. Paige thinks she knows what she wants: she’s even got a bucket list to prove it. But she finds that surprises can still sometimes win out over plans. Her friendship with Max is adorable, and as a reader you know they’re perfect together, but it doesn’t feel unrealistic that Paige doesn’t see that connection at first. I loved seeing their relationship evolve.
I also loved that Paige and Max ended up together and that Paige finally realized what I knew and everyone else in her world knew, that she and Max, not Ryan, belonged together. My favorite part of this book that kept me reading was when is Paige going to realize this for herself?
Strong friendships. Paige’s group of friends is basically the superhero friend group: the one that everyone aspires to. They love each other, they support each other, they forgive each other when things go wrong (which, of course, they have to; even with strong friendships there are always bumps along the road). And even though these friends are all supporting characters, they don’t feel like caricatures or add-ons. Emery Lord does a fantastic job helping us know each girl’s personality and quirks and ambitions.
Yes, I agree! I remember thinking that these girls will be friends for life and will be like The Golden Girls. This author definitely knows how to make her characters real to the reader. I also loved the friendship that grew first between Max and Paige, even though it started as a lie, as Paige using Max to get to Ryan.
Moving past expectations. Paige is tired of being known as “the girl whose boyfriend died.” Since she only dated him for a few months, she’s not even sure how much grief she’s earned (which felt real to me). But moving on is also awkward and uncomfortable in a lot of ways. I definitely felt for Paige in this situation.
This is one of the parts that I actually felt “meh” about. Paige only dated this guy a very short time and didn’t really know him too well. It didn’t seem believable to me that she would mourn that long. I almost felt she used his death to not live herself and face her own insecurities.
I can definitely see your point here. I felt like the issue was more that she felt guilty about not really mourning enough based on other people’s expectations. She pointed out that since she only dated him for such a short time, she didn’t feel as connected to him as his best friend did (and she felt like she was getting too much of the attention when the boyfriend died, and his best friend really should have been getting it). And I also think it’s realistic that a teenager would have a hard time with a boyfriend dying and that lack of closure. But I also definitely understand what you mean about her needing to move past it and not use his death as a sort of crutch.
What Left Us Hungry for More:
Not all that much. The only reason this book doesn’t get an even higher rating from me is because it wasn’t earth-shattering to me and didn’t leave me thinking about it for long after I read it. But I really enjoyed the story and the nerdiness and the characters. Basically, I really loved it while I was reading it. I definitely plan to read more Emery Lord in the future.
I really enjoyed this book, especially Max and how he surprised me with the way he saw the world and his various talents and interests. I also didn’t rate it my highest because I really didn’t think about it much after closing the book. But as this author knows how to write relationships well, I want to read the next book which is due out in 2020.
So, I think we pretty much agree on this one, and both Danielle and I said this book definitely Fed Our Fiction Addiction. Lord writes great characters who you can’t help but love!
About the Author
Hi! I’m Emery. I’m the author of 4 novels about teenage girls:
OPEN ROAD SUMMER, THE START OF ME & YOU, WHEN WE COLLIDED, and THE NAMES THEY GAVE US.
I was born near a harbor on the East coast and raised near a beach, an ocean, a great lake, and the Ohio River. I’m a longtime Cincinnatian, where we love good food, our public library, and a majestic baby hippo named Fiona.
I’m married to a scientist, and we are owned by our baby and two rescue dogs.
I believe in the magic of storytelling, Ferris wheels, and you.
Have you read this one? What did you think? We want to know!