Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on March 31st 2015
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Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.
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?
For months now I’ve been hearing people rave about the amazingness of Emery Lord’s books, and it’s slowly been wearing me down. The synopses of her books are adorable, and let’s face it — the covers are gorgeous! So I finally caved and reserved The Start of Me and You from the library, and drooled over seeing the cover in person when I finally got it.
What can I say? It’s a sweet book, and I enjoyed reading it, but I was far from being blown away by it. I know so many bloggers out there that absolutely loved it, and I just never got there with this book. To love a book — or even just to really, really like it — it needs to stand out to me or get me excited about it in several ways, and that wasn’t the case for me with The Start of Me and You. Too much of the story just felt so familiar and predictable to me. Maybe I’ve just read a lot of books like it before, but… that shouldn’t have to matter.
Who is our MC, Paige? She’s an “every girl” kind of character — nice enough, organized and put-together, annoyed by her little sister, a little innocent/oblivious, not super popular but liked by everyone, and supported by her own little group of friends. In all honesty though, I forgot her name a couple of times throughout the book: she’s just not that memorable. She actually gets a nickname in the book inspired by Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice:
“‘You seem much more like a Jane Bennet.’ My jaw dropped in offense. ‘That’s kind of mean!’ ‘No, it’s not! Jane is deeply underappreciated.’ ‘Because she’s boring…'”
I liked her well enough — except when she foolishly kept pursuing an unattainable crush — but she felt pretty flat to me. And boy, does it take her forever to finally wake up and see the blinding light that is one of the major plot points.
Yet somehow, I was still rooting for her. She has a pretty good character arc as she goes through a sort of self-discovery journey on her way out of her own grief, which featured prominently in the last part of the book and made me more invested in reading and finishing The Start of Me and You. But I still wasn’t able to feel for her personally — more just for the situation she was in. She felt more like a collection of goals (from her plan) and facts (like her interest in screenwriting). Her saving grace, in my opinion? Her love for the TV show I Love Lucy. It’s a classic and one of my favorites!
And ah, Paige’s friends. You know, I really wanted to like them. And I did — but they never felt real to me. There were three of them (I was about to say four) and I barely could keep them apart. Even now I hope that I have the right name to the right character, but I can’t be sure. Even more than Paige, they really felt like walking lists of traits to me. One is the chill and cool type, another a Type-A personality, another the edgy and impulsive type… yeah. Though they had some cute and touching moments together, and their actions towards one another were admirable, I wasn’t feeling it.
Why did I keep reading? Not ashamed to admit that it was MAX all the way. I LOVED that he was a nerd! I think I had trouble connecting to Paige and her friends — their high school life just really wasn’t much like mine. But Max and his nerdiness, on the other hand — YES. I felt him as a character much more — with his passions, caring gestures, and smart advice. The slow build-up of the romance was really cute, though later the ending felt a bit like a rom-com to me (yet that didn’t stop me from squealing in delight).