22429350The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: ARC provided by publisher. Thanks Bloomsbury!
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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? – Goodreads

Review:

The Start of Me and You is the story of Paige, or as she is known in high school, the girl who’s boyfriend died. That’s the type of town Paige lives in, the one where everyone has a nickname, even if it one that they don’t enjoy. So here Paige is with this nickname hanging over her, and while she misses her boyfriend, they really didn’t date long enough for her to properly feel his loss. It was the beginning of a relationship, not the meaty middle, but this doesn’t stop her neighbors, and people that she sees from giving her the sad sympathetic eyes that make her feel guilty for trying to live again.

You think, given the diversity of the human population, that we would have come up with multiple facial expressions for sympathy. But no. There’s one: eyebrows and mouth downturned, head tilted like a curious bird. —p3, printed ARC.

The guilt entered my bloodstream like a toxin —p3, printed ARC.

While I have not had a great death in my family (that I can remember) I know that feeling of guilt. I know that feeling well. On the third page of The Start of Me and You I was hooked. What I didn’t expected was how hooked I was going to be in Paige’s story. I devoured this book. My BookBFF and I have started a handwritten bookclub and I expected to write my letter while reading this book. But nope. No one has time for that. I read this so fast that I didn’t have time to take notes. I did use tons of tabs because Ashley. Ashley has the feeeeels.

Although I loved so many aspects of The Start of Me and You, what worked for me was the concentration on friendships and how much they can help you when you have the right friends. For part of the novel Paige is frustrated with her friend Kayleigh because Paige can see that she is making a poor life choice, but Paige knows nothing  she says will make Kayleigh see it. We’ve all been there, or at least I know I have been there. And it’s painful and it doesn’t always work out in the “right” away but never once wavered being friend with Kayleigh she was always there for Kayleigh, even if Paige wanted to rip her hair out. Friendship wasn’t wrapped in a neat bow here, particularly because Paige doesn’t understand why her friends say with her.

Tessa (Paige’s closest friend) lived through losing Aaron right beside me. It seemed unfair that she was always the one supporting me. Her life would have been so much lighter if it weren’t entwined with mine.–p172, printed ARC.

This gutted me. Because although I have not suffered that great loss, I understand what it’s like to have friends and not believe that I deserve them. From blogger friends, to friends that live near me in Phoenix, to online best friends that have become in person friends that happen to live thousands of miles away from me. All of them have something in common, besides being my friend, is that when I have my lowest of lows, I don’t get why their lives are entwined with mine. Why they stay. When Paige said this I wanted to crawl into the book and hug her so hard.

I also enjoyed the use of not only the High School English class, but also quiz bowl and how Lord made it not only work for Paige, but also made Paige grow outside her comfort zone which was interesting to see. There of course is an adorable boy named Max, who Paige ignores for the longest time, because it’s just Max and she cares for his cousin Ryan. What I enjoyed was how Max and Ryan joined Paige’s fold of friends. They were all welcomed quirks and all. If anything they made the four girls stronger and it was refreshing to see.

I found The Start of Me and You to yes be a story of moving on, but also about finding your true self, second chances, and that group of friends that have your back even when you think no one should. While The Start of Me and You is the follow up to Emery Lord’s debut standalone Open Road Summer it does not suffer from the dreaded second book slump of an author. Not one bit. While I love and adore Open Road Summer I believe I actually enjoyed Start of Me and You even more. I wasn’t aware it was possible to love a book more than I loved Open Road Summer but I guess it is! I originally tweeted in the middle of reading Start of Me and You“Reading an @emerylord book is like coming home from vacation. It’s the best feeling.” And I stick by that, because she has a way with words which involves me almost being nostalgic for my teen years.