Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Published: March 31 2015
Format: Paperback, Bloomsbury
Source: Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Summary: It’s been one year since it happened…
When Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in a swimming accident, she shut out almost everyone. Now Paige has decided it’s finally time to rejoin the world, and she has a plan. First on the list: go out with Ryan Chase, her longtime and newly single crush. And last on the list: swim. Terrifying, yet possible?
But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin Max moves to town and recruits Paige for the QuizBowl team (of all things!), her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Starting over isn’t easy, but Paige knows the scariest things are usually the most difficult. Can she face her fears and open herself up to life and love again? [Goodreads]
I adored this book. Seriously. The plot, the characters, the theme of grief and moving on. Emery Lord is such a talented story teller (I’ve read When We Collided but not Open Road Summer–that’s next on the list), which combined with the fact that her characters are amazing makes me love her even more. Paige’s (main character) PTSD from her boyfriend of two months drowning is interesting, because while she didn’t know Aaron very well and hasn’t moved on, she is still plagued by dreams and thoughts of his last moments. This, combined with her grandmother’s sickness, her parents not-so-recent divorce and her new plan to revamp her life create a story and overall feel of starting over (or starting new, like the title suggests).
- Parties/social events
- New group
There, I thought. A plan. At the top, I wrote: How to Begin Again
It’s this slightly forced plan that brings Paige to Max, her crush’s cousin, who she becomes very close with. Max is my favorite part of this book, and my one complaint is that I didn’t learn as much about him as I would have liked to. He’s a nerd (robotics, QuizBowl, Latin club, he’s obsessed with Firefly, etc) but his personality and sense of humor mesh perfectly with Paige’s, who is also a nerd (slightly less of one, but still a nerd. Example: the nickname Grammar Girl). Their friendship and could-be-more relationship is one of the biggest parts of the story, mostly because while other subplots come and go, Max is always there to help Paige and be by her side when things go wrong. He’s loyal, smart, awkward, loves airplanes and has no idea what he’s doing, so naturally, I liked him. Max isn’t the only important character in Paige’s adventure throughout the book, however. Her parents, grandmother, her three best friends and her sister are also very prominent, giving a well-rounded effect. Each character had memorable and distinguishable qualities but was also given flaws that allow them to be easily related to.
“[Y]ou are allowed to be sad, but you are not allowed to be a defeatist. The fact that you are hurting means that you let someone truly matter to you. . . You’ve had your cry, but now you’ll pick yourself up and keep living your life. Doubly, for that sweet boy. Love extra, even if it means you hurt extra, too. That’s how we honor them.”
The theme of coping with grief and remembering people was extremely stressed in The Start of Me and You, which is another reason I enjoyed it so much. It’s not just another contemporary where the only meaningful passages are about romantic love in the present or in the future. This book was actually written during a time of grieving for the author which gave it an intensely real feel of pain. Paige wanting to move on and live her life after her boyfriend’s death while still remembering him is a common thing after loss: someone stops living, and it seems their loved ones do the same, even though they’re still functioning. Remembering–while also moving on and living life–is a huge problem for Paige and therefore a very important and powerful theme as she attempts to continue to be herself and feel alive again.
Overall, I think I would recommend this book to anyone. It passes the Bechdel test, the female friendships are completely enviable, the pop culture references are spot-on, the family dynamic is interesting, the English teacher ships students, NERD LOVE and anything else you could be looking for in a great contemporary. I’m so happy I found this book (plus, the blogging slump is over??)
Song: Seeing Stars by BORNS (“I caught up to try and get your name, quickly wrote a love letter turned it into and airplane. . .There’s a love I’ve been keeping aside
And you’re the missing puzzle piece that I’ve been trying to find”)