|The Start of You and Me|
by Emery Lord
"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?"
So many things to love about this book! It didn't tick any of my YA pet peeve boxes, and that is really saying something. Some of my favorite things about this book:
That's right, these characters get to know each other and become good friends before anything else happens. What?! Does that really happen in life?! I loved their friendship and the fun they had together.
*Loving, over-protective parents.
So often in YA, authors further the story by having completely absent parents (one character had that, but the main character definitely had involved parents). Paige's parents are divorced but both very involved in her life. I was also glad to see her grow closer to her little sister by the end of the book.
*Supportive, fun, and loving girl friends.
I'm so over mean girls. It was very refreshing to read about a close group of friends who were always there for each other. A favorite quote from the book:
“In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”
*A loving, albeit forgetful-because-of-Alzheimer's grandmother.
I loved that Paige was so close to her grandmother and told her everything. Her grandmother was a role model for her because she had continued to live a full life even after losing her husband. How important that was to Paige who had lost her first boyfriend and was struggling to move on with her life.
*The eventual love interest is not an amazing athlete, definitely not the coolest kid in school, is always compared to his much cooler cousin.... He is a Quiz Bowl nerd and I loved that!
*Caring and inspiring teachers.
I hate books that have teachers ignoring bad behavior, or even encouraging it. I know so many good and wonderful teachers who have made differences in lives, so that is good to see portrayed in a YA book.
*I love that Paige is a goal-setter.
She knows what she wants and knows what she needs to do to accomplish it (although she was mistaken about some things), so she makes her list of goals and sticks to it.
*This is my nerdiness coming out, but I loved the Pride and Prejudice references.
Paige and Max's argument over who the better character was - Jane or Elizabeth - was perfect, and actually made me rethink some of my views on the subject.
*And oh, so many good quotes in this one! Here are a few of my favorites:
“In books, sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”
In speaking of why we reread books we know don't end well ( Romeo and Juliet ,Wuthering Heights ... ):
“The point is that we already know it doesn’t work out, but we reread them anyway, because the good stuff that comes before the ending is worth it.”
And one last one on friendship:
“Because with true friends, no one is keeping score. But it still feels good to repay them – even in the tiniest increments.”
I'm sure I could come up with many more lovable things about this book, but the ones I've listed should convince anyone to read it. I enjoyed it immensely! I will definitely be recommending this one to my middle schoolers, and look forward to more from this author.
Areas of concern:
*A small amount of bad language. 3 uses of the *s* word, 1 of *bs*, and one of *h*.
*Some talk of teenage partying, but nothing inappropriate by the main characters.
*Death of 2 people very important to the main character.
*Main character sneaks out at night to go help a friend.
*A couple of sweet kisses.
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+