Monday, July 24, 2017

When We Collided- by Emery Lord- Book Review

A YA book!? whaaaa!? Maybe it's thanks to #booktube, #bookstagram, my blog reading obsession- so many possible reasons- but YA has been on my brain lately. And with a million different titles to start with it was hard to know where to begin. The premise and cover for "When We Collided" just called my name- was it a good place to start? Did I break my curse of disliking YA fiction? Keep reading to find out! ; )

When We Collided
Emery Lord

Seventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town. Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she's told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels' household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it's not long before Vivi's zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking. Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah's love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn't enough?

Intriguing premise

I was drawn to reading "When We Collided" because both of the main characters sounded like they were in really intriguing positions for their young age and I wanted to see how they would play out. Vivi Alexander is struggling between being a free-spirited individual, but relying upon medication to keep her safely grounded emotionally. Jonah Daniels is struggling as he operates as a stand-in parent to his younger siblings after his father passes away his mother sinks into a deep depression. I struggled a little bit reading this book, but anytime I had trouble getting through a chapter, my curiosity about how their lives would turn out from these difficult circumstances kept me reading. Also, Emery Lord's writing kept me reading, as much as I struggled at times with the characters, there were some stellar writing moments in the book and I would absolutely read another book by this author.

Great secondary characters

While I wasn't so crazy about one of the main characters * cough* Vivi *cough*, I was really intrigued by some of the secondary ones- particularly the brothers and sisters of Jonah Daniels. As difficult as Jonah's situation is, the whole Daniels family is really struggling together. Jonah's oldest sister struggles with the guilt of going to college while her family flounders and I really empathized with her feelings. It helped that her character is also fairly critical of Vivi, and I can understand her mistrust and worry for Jonah. I really liked her character and looked forward to the sections in the book where she appeared.

Parenting nightmares

The secondary characters I couldn't stand, however, were overwhelmingly the parents of "When We Collided". Because oh, dear lord, the parents in this book! All of them just really made me so frustrated! First, Vivi's mom, who seems just completely clueless about what is going on with her daughter. Even though it is plain as day to the reader that Vivi is about to go off the deep end, all her mother seems to do is ask her if she's taking her medication ( duh, no) and sighing. And while I sympathize with the powerlessness in her situation, I was also frustrated by her inactive nature. Jonah's mother, who I sincerely feel bad for is also frustrating- but to a lesser extent. The most frustrating parent in the book for me was the co-owner of Jonah's deceased father's restaurant. This guy! He came over to the Daniel's house regularly right after the father passed away, however, he abruptly stopped and hasn't been back since. Buddy! Way to help out! Granted Mrs. Daniels asked him to give them space, but the occasional pop-in would not hurt - and is oh so clearly needed. I just wanted a helicopter parent to pop out from somewhere and smoother these kids with love and affection - because they needed it!

What I Struggled With

Besides my issues with the parents, my greatest struggle reading "Where We Collided" was Vivi. God bless you, Vivi. I can not begin to imagine how difficult life is for individuals with manic depression. The author chose for the book to switch between Vivi and Jonah as narrator - but Vivi's scattered sense of self and reasoning led to chapters that were just unreadable for me. And incredibly frustrating. I had a hard time finding redeeming qualities in Vivi, particularly because I felt so protective of Jonah. Vivi had a destructive personality, particularly when her emotions were not controlled- and because Jonah had already been through so much, it was hard not to both worry for him and dislike Vivi because of her potential to hurt him. Vivi's character also lacked context, I struggled with my frustrations in part because the symptoms Vivi was demonstrating - hyper-sexualization, roller coaster mood swings, deceit, and manipulation- were all obvious symptoms, but never explained to the reader as such. There was an assumption that the reader would know the symptoms of someone with manic depressive disorder, which I don't think is a safe assumption. Ultimately though, I also think that the author did a good job accurately depicting Vivi's mindset. And so I found myself struggling between- this author is doing an excellent job, but this is also just unreadable for me because of who the narrator is and what she is doing and thinking.

Have you read "When We Collided"? Let me know what you thought of the book below in the comments! Thinking about reading this book? Click here to find a copy at your local library or click below to view the book on Amazon.


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