There was so much I loved about this book. It wasn’t earth shattering or mind blowing, but it was funny, sad, romantic, and sweet. Emery Lord is a magnificent writer, and it shines through in this story. Paige’s voice is fresh, raw, insecure, and vulnerable. Half the things she said could’ve come out of my own mouth, because she was just so relatable and real. And not only was the main character amazing, but the rest of the secondary characters were dynamic and dimensional and full of personality. The story was a character driven story. The plot line, while enjoyable was predictable, and probably wouldn’t have been anything special without the characters. But all the characters drive the story, so much so that you want to keep reading just so you can keep hanging out with them.
“If you’re really lucky, relationships- with family, friends or boyfriends- are limitless. There’s no maximum on how much you can love each other. The problem i, there’s also no limit on how much you can hurt each other.”
Paige’s first boyfriend died a little over a year ago. Since then, Paige has shut herself off from the world, and stopped living. But now she’s getting fed up with it. She’s tired of receiving That Look, and being thought of as the Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned. So she makes a list full of tasks to help her move on with her life. One of these tasks is dating Ryan Chase, her childhood crush. But as junior year progresses, Paige finds herself becoming closer with Max, Ryan’s nerdy cousin. Who will Paige choose, and ultimately, who will she become?*
*Disclaimer: this book contains no love triangle, although the synopsis makes it sound like it does.
The first thing I think of when I think about this book is the incredible friendships Lord writes. Paige has an extraordinary group of girl friends, and throughout the book this group enlarges to include Max and Ryan. But there is something so special about the girl friendships in this story. Tessa, Paige, Morgan, and Kayleigh are all different, but mesh together so well. They understand each other as well as they understand themselves, look out for each other like they would protect their siblings, and love each other more than anything. The way they are always there for each other is just so amazing. It made me want to jump in and be like “Hey, have any more room for me?” They all support each other during hard times and the friendship wouldn’t be complete without one of them.
“When it all closes in, there are only two kinds of people: best friends and everyone else.”
In fact, some of my favorite scenes weren’t the romantic scenes (although those were so good), but the scenes that highlighted the friendships. When Paige’s friends dance with her in a parking lot to celebrate her success. When they surprise their friend after she’s been let down. When they all huddle around Paige and hold her up so she doesn’t crumble. When Max and Ryan crash Paige’s family party and play board games with her. When they support Paige and Max in Quiz Bowl. The friendships were so pure, so innocent, and so strong. Tessa, Paige, Kayleigh, and Morgan have always been there for each other through the good and the bad, and Max and Ryan prove that they are too.
“In friendship, we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of race in the chaos.”
I have to talk about Max next. Max was such a unique character. He was nerdy, golden hearted, kind, and funny. Like so funny I laughed out loud. The way he teases Paige cracks me up. He is honestly the ultimate good guy, but not in a flat or one dimensional way. Emery Lord is so skilled at writing the good guy in a way that actually gives him a personality. Also, he flirts in Pride and Prejudice language? Can someone say swoon!?
Obviously, the romance was a main factor of this story. The best thing about Paige and Max’s relationship was how slow moving it was. They started out as desk neighbors, which moved into Quiz Bowl buddies, then friendship, and then falling in love. There was nothing rushed or hurried about their love. It was all built on a foundation of understanding and trust and a deep, genuine connection. Max understood how Paige felt even in ways her best friends didn’t. He understood the feeling of insecurities and loss. And while I loved Ryan (he was such a good person and so kind and charming), he just wasn’t right for Paige, and I’m glad she realized that. Their friendship would always remain important and special, but what Max and Paige have is so real and genuine it makes my heart happy. Side note, their email exchange at the end of the book is probably the cutest conversation I’ve ever read. You can really see how natural it is. They joke, they tell each other about their days, and they express their love.
“I think I’ve loved you since that first day.”
I have to give a little shout out to Paige and Grammy’s relationship. Paige’s home life is a little messed up (divorced parents who are dating each other again? interesting.) so it was good to see Paige have an older role model to lean on. And Grammy was such an inspirational role model. She supported Paige in everything, fed her dreams, and she understood her feelings of loss. It hurt my heart to see Grammy slowly losing her memory, and watch Paige patiently explain to her her fears and hopes and dreams. Watching Grammy keep a notebook of everything Paige said so she doesn’t forget for their next conversation was so sweet it was sad.
Lastly, a little paragraph dedicated to Paige. I already talked a lot about her in the first paragraph, but I just wanted to mention her growth. In the beginning, she isn’t living. When Aaron (her boyfriend) died, it was as if she died too. Watching her slowly begin to bloom again was heartwarming. Sure, it wasn’t easy, and she moved backwards sometimes. But she was growing and moving forward and trying, and becoming herself again but also a new, braver version of her.
“I may be stumbling through these steps, but at least I’m stumbling forward.”
If you are in the mood for a mushy, sweet, adorable, and overall good story with fantastic writing and terrific friendships, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is just for you.
Have you read this magnificent book? What did you think? How does it compare to Emery Lord’s other books? Let me know in the comments below!
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