When We Collided was my second attempt at loving an Emery Lord book after The Start of Me and You. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in love with this one like I was in love with The Start of Me and You. In fact, throughout a majority of the book, it didn’t seem that special. I didn’t feel super connected to the characters. But the ending is what did it for me. It elevated it from an average book to something more profound and touching.
This book is told in dual POVs, Vivi and Jonah. Vivi moves to Verona Cove in the summer, and immediately decides that she’ll fall in love with Jonah. Vivi and Jonah both have problems of their own, but they love each other despite their problems and understand each other. Dating each other is better for both of them as they manage their daily lives, but is it too much?
“Even the constellations can see us now: we are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know.”
Vivi has bipolar disorder. I’m really proud of Emery Lord for pushing mental illness into the limelight, and representing it in what I think is a very realistic way (it should noted that I do not have a mental illness and therefore my opinions may be totally wrong on this account). She didn’t glamorize mental illness, she presented it as it is: the good and the bad. That’s what made me frustrated with Vivi, I think. She upsetted me because sometimes she didn’t do things that I would have done, but rightfully so from Lord’s POV. Having her be different than me, and deliberately so, helped me learn to accept what I am and what she is and humanize it, in a way. I could learn what is normalized (note: not normal but normalized) in our society, so I feel like it made me more aware. I was mad at Viv a lot and honestly, didn’t like her that much. She was really big, really out there, and I’m not sure how much of that is just her personality and how much is because of her mental illness but it was off putting.
“To the deepest, most cellular level of my being, I resent people who believe that depression is the same as weakness, that “sad” people must be coddled like helpless toddlers.”
Jonah, on the other hand, I loved. I’m a compete sucker for the big brother type, and also the lost a parent trope, and Jonah had both. He was just so sweet and a really necessary counterpart to Viv. While Viv is impulsive and eccentric, Jonah is more measured and logical. His storyline with his dad honestly broke my heart.
Their love is really insta love, which I kinda hate but made sense in this case. When Viv and Jonah fall in love, Viv is in the beginning of her manic stage of bipolar disorder, so everything is insta for her. It was, in that way, fitting that her love would be too. Their love didn’t prove to be fake. It was almost like the got the falling in love over with so they could focus on how they work through their problems and see if there love is really worth it, which it was.
I have to talk about the ending. It was the most memorable part of the book, for me, and therefore needs a paragraph. It wasn’t a happy ending, but it was necessary. It tackled a hard subject and Emery Lord had the guts to choose an unhappy ending because it fit the story. The ending shows that sometimes people don’t need to end up together for their love to be real and they were better off separate at that point, but gave each other what they needed to move on and will always love each other.
“That’s the thing they never tell you about love stories: just because one ends, that doesn’t mean it failed. A cherry pie isn’t a failure just because you eat it all. It’s perfect for what it is, and then it’s gone. And exchanging the truest parts of yourself–all the things you are–with someone? What a slice of life. One I’ll carry with me into every single someday.”
Even though I know this review wasn’t a glowing review, I think it’s an important read because the mental illness aspect is really well handled and inserted so expertly into the discussion. And I absolutely love the way Jonah’s story was wrapped up.
Have you read this book? How do you think it handles the topic of mental illness? How is it compared to her other novels? Let me know in the comments below!
Check out my Rating Descriptions here!