Two beautifully flawed characters, two heartbreaking personal tragedies, and one incredible romance. When We Collided by Emery Lord is easily one of my favorite books of 2016; I read it obsessively and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it every since.
A gorgeous contemporary YA novel, When We Collided also beautifully and organically addresses some serious issues facing today’s teens.
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.
Yes, this is a love story. Yes, it will have you swooning and rooting for this unlikely pair.
But. Oh. It is so much more.
In between capturing two unique and wonderful souls in Vivi and Jonah, Lord also explores some heavy subjects — perhaps most significantly mental illness, though she also dabbles in absentee parents, death, and the grieving process along the way, as well. But the best part is that everything flows naturally from the heart of the story — from these two characters and “when they collided.” When Lord addresses these issues, it comes organically as part of the plot — which means it never feels like an icky, awkward after school special.
Instead, what you get is an explosive story about two teens who are already world weary as a result of what they have experienced in their young lives — and who find comfort, solace, and unexpected healing in each other. Their story is beautiful and heartbreaking, but also messy and hopeful. It’s like life: you get the crap right alongside the good, and you muddle through as best you can and strive for the best and do what you can with what you’ve got.
When We Collided has all the romance and whimsy of the best contemporary YA love stories, with just enough gritty realism to make it believable and relatable. This gorgeous book is in stores April 5th.