Saturday 25 August 2018

#CBR10 Book 63: "The Start of Me and You" by Emery Lord

Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 4 stars

#CBR10Bingo: Brain Candy

A year ago, Paige's boyfriend died in a tragic drowning accident, and she is still suffering from nightmares and is known around town as "the girl whose boyfriend died". She hasn't been able to even get near a pool since it happened. It seems like everywhere she goes, she gets "the look" of people who don't really see her, but just associate her with the dead boy she'd dated for two months before his life was tragically cut short.

Determined that she needs to move on and reclaim her life, Paige makes a list of tasks to achieve in the coming school year. She discovers that Ryan Chase, the guy she's crushed on since childhood is suddenly single and with the support of her three best friends, she is convinced that she might have a chance with him. She also wants to become more sociable and go to parties, join some kind of school club, she wants to travel and scariest of all - she need to try to get back in the water and swim.

Of course, life doesn't really neatly a neatly numbered list, and Paige's plan soon takes a few twists and turns. Her grandmother, who has always been super supportive of Paige, and is the only one who knows about her screenwriting career dreams, is starting to take a turn for the worse. Her divorced parents (whose divorce was rather acrimonious) are now dating again - the twist - they are dating each other. While Paige's little sister thinks this is great, Paige, who is old enough to remember how bad they were before they split up, is both upset and worried. Ryan's cousin Max has joined their high school and convinces Paige to join the quiz bowl team, and before long, Paige is spending a lot more time with Max than with Ryan.

While this is yet another of FYA's Swoonworthy Summer Reads, the thing I liked the most about this book (which is one of the many e-books I've bought on sale over the years and then promptly forgotten about) was not actually the romantic subplot, but the close and supportive friendship between Paige and her three best friends. They have been friends since childhood and always have each other's backs, through thick and thin. Tessa, Morgan and Kayleigh were excellent supporting characters and there was never any sense of rivalry, jealousy or cattiness between them.

I found Paige's disgust about her divorced parents suddenly dating very amusing. My own parents decided to stay together "for the kids" for several very awkward years where both my younger brother and I would much have preferred them to live apart, then separated, yet stayed more or less friendly for ten years. The family always celebrated Christmases and other major holidays together, certainly. Then, after a decade of living separately, when my younger brother finally decided to move out, it seems Mum intended to mend things with my Dad (but told NO ONE about this). Dad, because they prior to my brother's decision to move out really had been drifting apart and rarely spoke anymore, took this as a sign that maybe it was time to actually get a divorce. He gave Mum divorce papers to sign, and she (convinced that he had met someone else) signed them (but was really depressed about it). Only after the divorce was actually official did they start communicating properly again and while they are still divorced (and currently live in different countries), now go on vacation together at least once a year and still spend all the major holidays together. So I know of strange parental relationships.

While I agree that both Ryan and Max were pretty dreamy, it would not have hurt the story for the romance subplot to be more prominent in the book. I would say this was a book about female friendships and overcoming grief and trauma, with some romance on the side. I discovered that Emery Lord has a sequel to this book coming out in 2019 though, so maybe I'll get more romance in that book. Fingers crossed.

Judging a book by its cover: I have no idea who chose and approved the cover for this, certainly not anyone who'd read the book. Paige's boyfriend drowned! She has a recurring nightmare about drowning and is terrified of getting near water. There's no way she'd be sitting gazing at the sunset at the side of a body of water - that would pretty much literally be her worst nightmare. Stupid, generic YA cover. Do better, publishers.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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