Published by Bloomsbury Children's on March 31st, 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamicsThe 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 never thought I would give an Emery Lord book anything but three stars. I like Open Road Summer, but the girl-on-girl hate was fierce and something that really, REALLY pissed me off. I expected The Start of Me and You to follow the same format. So imagine my surprise, then, to find that this book had almost a feminist tone to it! The book rails against slut-shaming, showcases incredibly strong female friendships, and features a supporting character that actually is a feminist (who is a church goer) who wants to major in women studies.
I nodded. “She’s wanted to major in women’s studies since we were, like, ten.”
“How does that work, exactly? Isn’t she . . . I mean, she’s religious, right?”
“Yeah. She believes in personal freedom, God, and true love. In that order,” I said, quoting Morgan’s oft-repeated explanation.
“That sounds about right,” Max said. “Considering that, in history class yesterday, she raised her hand to politely suggest that the teacher was slut-shaming Anne Boleyn.”
The first half of the book was a bit slow for me, and I felt it was a bit surface and lacking in depth. There was not a lot of tension, not much plot, and I was worried I wasn’t going to like it. I never contemplated DNFing it because it was at least readable, but I didn’t feel a connection at the beginning. It wasn’t at all the experience I had with this author’s debut novel. But one thing was great from the get-go, and that was the voice. I TRULY felt I was reading the voice of a teenager. It was authentic down to the last word.
My mother had always been strict, but she reacted to Aaron’s death with even more rules–as if by controlling my life, she could protect me from harm. She constantly encouraged me to be social, but she enforced a ridiculous curfew. She asked if I wanted to talk, but if I did, she would up telling me what to do, when all I’d wanted was someone to listen.
Personally, one of the things I loved most about the book were all the mentions of I Love Lucy and one of the show’s head writers, Madeline Pugh. I believe the author is a fan of the show, and since it is my FAVORITE show, that was really nice to read. I felt close to the book because of that connection. I Love Lucy is my comfort show. I’ve watched every episode hundreds of times, so it feels like a warm blanket to me. The way this book was so pro-women just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
The second half of the book was much better than the first. I loved Max (the love interest) and his Firefly obsession; Lauren, who reminded me of Amy from The Big Bang Theory; Paige and her insecurities that made her feel human and realistic; and once again, the strong female friendships and the positive portrayal of feminism. I feel like it’s almost a complete 180 from the last book.
The romance is adorable and sweet, and Max was just the perfect love interest. But one of my favorite things was how the secondary guy was not an asshole. This leaves the decision in the protagonist’s hands. She chooses the guy that is BETTER for her–if Ryan had been a douchebag, her decision would have been easily made for her. That makes a huge difference to me. Just another way this book is pro-woman.
But back to Max. My favorite quote from him:
“. . . we already know it doesn’t work out, but we reread them anyway, because the good stuff that comes before the ending is worth it.”
This took me aback. It was a compelling argument–one I’d never considered.
“Also!” Max shook his finger as if giving a lecture. “In books, sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”
This book ended up being a fairly emotional experience for me. The second half of the book came alive for me, and I became attached to the characters, the story, the ideas–everything. You could call Emery Lord’s work fluffy, but there is so much more to it than that. There are positive parental figures and a grandma who is sort of a mentor for Paige–and this part of the story I personally had trouble with because I was so very close to my own grandmother. Paige’s friends are unique and diverse, and I felt every single character was developed with depth. The Start of Me and You may be my favorite book of 2015 so far.