When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publishing Date: April 5
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.
Meet Vivi: bubbly, energetic, artistic. Meet Jonah: reserved, responsible, quite the talent in the kitchen. When Vivi and her mother move to quaint Verona Cove for the summer, she wants nothing more than to feel free and impulsive, her true self. It’s a chance meeting at the pottery shop that brings her to Jonah, a boy overburdened with adult responsibilities due to his father’s death and mother’s shut-in mourning habits. They cling to one another — Vivi to Jonah because he’s good, kind, relaxed, and easy-going; Jonah to Vivi because she shows him how to feel free and find beauty in the small things — but by the end of the summer, Vivi’s zest for life almost becomes too much.
The book is told in dual POV, and that alone makes Vivi and Jonah’s personalities that much more interesting and contrasting. Vivi is free-spirited and artistic, so naturally her narrative tends to be a wordy, head-in-the-clouds, stream-of-consciousness thought process. Jonah’s dealing with grief and responsibility, burdens on his shoulders he’s too young to carry, and while it weighs him down he still finds reasons to carry on each day. But if you were to look at their narratives separately — all the Vivi chapters together, all the Jonah chapters together — the growth and development is astounding. You can see, bit by bit, Vivi’s mania going into overdrive. You can see Jonah begin to crack and grieve properly, allowing him to move on. And at the turning point, when everything collides, then stabilizes…it leaves you breathless.
Lord is known for her friendship stories. There would always be a romance involved, but it was the friendship that made her work stand out. While this new book is primarily a romance, friendship continues to pervade the pages. Vivi befriends everyone in town, and falls in sync with Jonah’s family. Jonah relies on his friends and practically-family in the restaurant. The support network for these two, separate and together, is beautiful and authentic and so true to life. You could know someone inside and out and still not know them. The deepest, darkest secrets.
Another thing I loved about this book is how Lord handles feminism and mental illness. She’s a huge advocate online for both, and for that I think of her as one of the strongest women in our generation. She’s forward and upfront about everything, no ounce of “airing dirty laundry.” This book sounds like her, and it’s a comfort to see how she manages to weave everything together. It’s a progressive book, a book for men and women, adults and teens, friends witnessing friends with mental illness, individuals suffering from mental illness themselves, girls of all kinds expressing themselves in all ways without shame, boys doing the same and respecting girls as human beings. It’s all so beautiful.
Can I please just have lunch with Emery Lord now? Please?
Thank you, Lindsey, for providing this book received from Bloomsbury for review!