Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date April 5, 2016
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along. Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world. Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures. In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever."
Vivi is a charismatic girl; the kind of girl who radiates sunshine when she walks into a room. She loves vintage clothing, bright red lipstick and knock-off Marilyn Monroe hair. Vivi and her mother are spending the summer in Verona Beach, California and she meets townie and chef-wannabe Jonah. Jonah is a complex guy and has more responsibilities than your average seventeen year old. His father tragically died and left behind his mother and many siblings in a state of disarray. You see Jonah's mother never really got out of bed and fully recovered from the shock of her husband's death. Instead she left all the responsibilities to her older children, including Jonah. When Vivi meets Jonah, sparks fly and he can't help but question why such a vivacious girl would be attracted to him. Meanwhile, Vivi loves Jonah's family and even helps him deal with the ups and downs of his mother's depression. A summer romance ensues...that is until Vivi stops taking her medication and starts to act unpredictably. This obviously impacts their relationship and quickly it becomes a summer romance that either of them will ever forget. Emery Lord's serious and beautifully written novel, When We Collided, had me feeling it all for these two characters. In the end, the book ultimately made me think, which all great books do.
Vivi felt larger than life in When We Collided. It took me awhile to warm up to her, because she was so out there at times. She was definitely a force to be reckon with and one of those characters that you slowly gravitate towards. Some of the things she would say seemed so outlandish, but I realized what she was saying was sort of beautiful in a messy kind of way. I realized she suffered from a mental illness of some sort and readers will slowly piece together the puzzle surrounding this as the story progresses. As Vivi would throw her medication in the ocean, my heart would break, because I knew it would impact her relationship with Jonah.
Jonah is such a great guy in When We Collided. I'm pretty sure high school me would have LOVED him and declared him my new literary boyfriend. He is such a responsible guy, loyal, friendly, caring...the whole nine yards. And to top it off, he makes the most incredible food. He's pretty much the perfect high school boyfriend. But his life isn't perfect. As I mentioned before his mother suffers from severe depression and has pretty much given up. It's up to Jonah to take care of his younger siblings, which is no easy task. It broke my heart.
Their relationship in When We Collided was so much more than a summer romance. It was, like Vivi, larger than life and even when it was going downhill, I still held out hope that these two would work it out. But we all know that summer romances are usually fleeting, especially when dealing with the aftermath of Vivi's choices. Their relationship reminded me a big of Mad Love (I'm sure this reference is showing my age!) for those who are familiar with the movie. Ultimately, both characters had some issues and I just wanted them to find their way...to be happy.
Lord's writing is seriously beautiful in When We Collided. Her style reminded me of John Green's from time to time and that's, obviously, high praise. There were so many quotes that I wanted to write down, because I thought they were so moving. Here's one of my favorites:
“No matter what heaven you believe in, your time on this earth will end. What I’m saying is that you should listen—really listen—to the slosh of the waves and the distant call of Pacific birds. You should feel a boy’s pulse against your cheek; you should fill your lungs with ocean air. While you can, I mean. You should do these things while you still can.”
If you are looking for a smart read this spring that is equal parts serious and romantic, but will also make you think, then check out When We Collided. I know it had me thinking about the importance of mental health and I applaud Lord for writing about such a tough topic. When We Collided is one of my favorite books of the year.