Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: March 31, 2015
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Open Road Summer
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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? "
Paige Hancock dated Aaron only for a few months before he tragically died in a swimming accident. Even though she didn't know him as well as some other people, she was still irrevocably changed by his untimely death. All of the people in her neighborhood would give her "the look," the one where they feel sorry for her and she felt she was known as the girl whose boyfriend drowned. Everyone was hoping after some time grieving she would be ready to move on, but that's not the case. She sort of was stuck for over a year in limbo, but now she wants to start living a real life and have real high school experiences. So, she makes a list for herself of things she wants to do to move on: join a club, date her crush Ryan, go swimming in order to conquer her newfound fear, etc. However, her plan goes awry when she meets Max, Ryan's cousin, who wants her to join the Quiz Bowl team. Can he break her out of her shell? Is she really ready to move on? Emery Lord's The Start of Me and You is brilliant. It reminded me of a John Green novel. It was smart, it was funny, it was heartbreaking and it was very real. Highly recommended if you enjoy contemporary YA fiction.
I found Paige to be a very relateable character in The Start of Me and You, which it probably why I connected with it so much. She is smart, enjoys books, loves TV (aspiring screenwriter!), lacks confidence from time to time, but has a group of girlfriends that she truly relies on. One of the best aspects of this book was the dynamics with her group of girlfriends. I loved it. It's not often in YA literature that we see genuinely true friendships amongst girls and I loved that they supported each other and were there for each other at the drop of a hat.
I also adored Paige's relationship with her family in The Start of Me and You. This was yet again another real portrayal of a family that isn't necessarily perfect, but they care about one another. Paige is having a hard time with the fact that her parents, who have been divorced for years, are starting to "date" one another again. This throws Paige for a loop. She doesn't want to go back down that road of parental discord. Another relationship I adored in The Start of Me and You, is Paige's relationship with her grandmother. This was absolutely fantastic. It really spoke to me. Her grandmother has Alzheimer's disease, but Paige still really values their relationship. Paige visits her grandmother quite often and not only tells her secrets, but gets advice from her. I can't tell you how much I loved this. It brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion.
Now about the romance in The Start of Me and You. Although this book does focus on getting over first love and moving on, it's also more about Paige's journey. Paige thinks she loves Ryan, her crush for many years, but once his cousin, Max, enters the scene, he becomes her good friend and then possibly something more. I have a huge soft spot for friends FIRST before dating in literature (and in life!), so this was totally in my wheelhouse. I loved their friendship, their nerdy interests, their witty banter and ultimately, their feelings as they developed into something more. Paige kept dismissing them as simply...it's Max, he's a nerd, we are just friends, etc, but everyone could see the truth.
There are so many fantastic moments in The Start of Me and You. The references to literature, the moments with her girlfriends, the talks with her grandmother, the laugh out loud dialogue, the slow burn of the romance.... I loved it all. There were moments in the book where Lord's writing reminded me of John Green combined with Norah Ephron. I can't say enough good things.
The only thing that I didn't like about this book is the fact that my teenage-self can't read her novels. This book would have really spoken to me as a teenager and I know that many young people today will cherish it. Without a doubt, Emery Lord is on my list of auto-buy authors and I will read anything she writes in the future.