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?
3 Drink Me Potions
“Knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”
Likewise, it wasn’t hard to predict how The Start of Me and You would turn out, but Paige’s journey in rediscovering herself, both returning to her old self before the accident as well as figuring out her new self, was a wonderful thing to witness. Paige had lost her boyfriend, Aaron, by a freak drowning incident after only a few months of dating. I was a little glad that this book didn’t focus on her sadness too much, as some books with similar freak accidents do. Instead, it focuses on her determination to get rid of That Look of pity from others and to learn to move on with her life without feeling guilty that she had this opportunity while Aaron hadn’t.
Thus, she makes a simple list of 5 things to accomplish for her junior year to help her move on from her standstill. For some reason, I really like books that make simplistic lists to follow as it gives the events of the story a structured feel. But accomplishing lists don’t always seem as easy as it is to just write it down. Throughout her school year, Paige finds in herself all these small moments that she could never have predicted she could have gotten. I thought she rather aptly named her list of goals as How to Begin Again, as it really was the first step that set the ball rolling for the rest. In fact, I liked it so much, I kind of wonder why How to Begin Again wasn’t the title. Ah well.
Besides the steady-paced journey to discovery for Paige, I loved her relationship with her 3 girlfriends. Their friendships were so real, as besties should be. Each brought something different to the table, they were uniquely themselves (come on, they each even had very specific music preferences), yet they could come together so easily in order to hold up each other when any of them needed it. Not many books write about friendships as well as Emery Lord does. I think my favourite way that Lord described this friendship was in this single sentence.
“Together, we made four walls, holding each other up even as the world around us shifted.”
It is absolutely the best way to imagine a close friendship, or rather, close friendships between 4 girls. Even when the world threw all these different problems at them, whether it be death or breakup or abandonment from parents, they held each other up. That’s the kind of inspiring relationship here that I’m starting to recognize as Emery Lord’s signature description of the best kinds of friendships.
And that leaves me to talk about the romance. It was, at the end of the day, realistic. Yes, it was kind of slow, especially since Paige was so consumed by the idea of Ryan. However, I loved Ryan as much as I loved Max. Just because one guy is popular while the other is a nerd doesn’t mean they can’t both be kind and selfless. In fact, the biggest difference I found between the cousins was just in their label: the Guy Everyone Wanted to Date and the nerd. So, just because there is the stereotypical label in place, their personalities aimed to be different. That was an admirable attempt, although it made the two boys harder for me to decide on which I liked more. Hence, the romance was a little lagging for the first half of the book.
The only other problem was Ryan’s rather unnecessary attempt to chase after one of Paige’s friends. Like, just because she moves on to realizing Max might be more meant for her, was it really necessary to make Ryan seem a little desperate to move onto someone else as well, given the bad breakup he had? Sure, this book is all about rediscovering yourself and possibly finding the involuntary pull of someone else. It just felt a little off to me, although I was kind of glad Lord didn’t tie it into such a neat bow that there was an explicit relationship mentioned. I guess it left it open for interpretation for anyone who would rather that he found his happiness too.
At the end of the day, The Start of Me and You was a very interesting story with its heartfelt relationships, both with friends and with Paige’s family, as it chronicled her year of attempting to begin again.
See? How to Begin Again would’ve made such a great title. Honestly.
Another beautiful story of the best kinds of friendships, heartbreak and the ability to redefine yourself afterwards, Emery Lord doesn’t disappoint. Albeit a bit slow in the romance department at first, the story excels in other areas as we follow Paige’s journey at learning to be herself again without the label of Girlfriend Whose Boyfriend Drowned. Loveable characters and universal ideals that can easily touch anyone’s heart, this proves that Emery Lord weaves gorgeous stories that inspire hope and friendships even in the darkest of days. I suggest you give this a try.