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When We Collided Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Filled with raw, descriptive truths and told through the alternating voices of the protagonists, this story takes place in the idyllic, picturesque setting of Verona Cove, CA. Small enough for everyone to know one another yet large enough to handle a summer tourist season, this background locale is a perfect nesting spot for the poignant love story between Vivi Alexander and Jonah Daniels. The collision between the teens crests and ebbs in what seems like a far too small window of time. Instead, the story dares to allow the action to rise and fall in an organic way. Teeming with in-your-face realism, the work exposes readers to the emotional ups and downs of Vivi, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Jonah, who is trying to hold himself, his siblings, and the family restaurant together as his mother falls apart after the death of her husband. Vivi's struggles with taking medication, and her honest discussions of her brain's chemical issues are evenly balanced with her portrayal as an artist who wants to leave her mark on the world. Jonah's quiet strength as he steps into the role his father's death left vacant and his willingness to share a piece of himself with Vivi make this a powerful book for reader engagement. The ending will have readers hoping for a sequel, though one is not needed. VERDICT An absolute tearjerker romance with a powerful message about weightier topics of grief and mental illness.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
"Nothing short of heartbreaking. These are definitely two teens worth rooting for in a tale that’s several clicks above the usual frothy summer romance fare." - BCCB
"Lord sucks readers into the fully realized world of two teenagers and their messy, honest families. As much about the fragility of the human experience as it is about mental illness, this offers a refreshing perspective on a spectrum of mental health disorders. This love story veers away from tragedy, instead firmly entrenching itself in hope and possibility." ―Booklist
"Filled with raw, descriptive truths . . . a powerful book for reader engagement . . . An absolute tearjerker romance with a powerful message about weightier topics of grief and mental illness." ―starred review,School Library Journal
"This is more than a love story. When We Collided carefully yet effortlessly puts mental illness in conversation with the beauty and struggle of adolescence. It is a book I wish could have written, but am so much better for having read." ―Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of DUMPLIN' and SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY
"Searingly honest, gut-wrenchingly authentic, and deeply romantic, When We Collided is a gift of a novel. It tackles tough topics with nuance, and will make readers both laugh and cry, sometimes within the span of a page." ―Jasmine Warga, author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES
"Vivi and Jonah's story will hit you deep in a book that shows what it means not only to be a person inflicted with mental illness, but to be the people that love them. In a word, fantastic!" ―Andi of Andi’s ABCs
"Fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell will fall in love with this poetic story of two damaged kids." ―Daria Plumb, 2015 President of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) and secondary English Language Arts teacher
"There is an honest portrayal of how life can be jagged, with rough corners and uneven edges. But if you take a closer look, there's a beauty to these misshapen moments, outlined with hope." ―Blogger Ginger Phillips at GReadsBooks!
"I can't shake Vivi, her mistakes and her growth, the way she changes, the way she loves, and I don't want to. She's a YA heroine who will matter so much to teens." ―Angie Manfredi, Los Alamos County Library
"Emery weaves an emotional tale of two people who are essentially flawed, but so very human, navigating a relationship. She truly has a feel for the seventeen-year-old within all of us girls." ―Cori Smith, Joseph-Beth Booksellers
"It's romance and excitement and nervousness and heartbreak and sadness. . . . The teens at my library will eat this up!" ―Maggie Melson, Children's/Teen Librarian, St. Charles City-County Library District
"What happens when an irrepressible spirit meets a burdened teen? Magic, that’s what. Emery Lord knows how to craft a romance." ―Michael Fleming, Librarian, Pacific Cascade Middle School
"A fabulously entertaining story of friendship, healing, and love. Filled with laughter, heart, and a side of sass, this rock star debut will have you cheering for an encore!" ―Elizabeth Eulberg, author of BETTER OFF FRIENDS, on OPEN ROAD SUMMER
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Top customer reviews
Going in to When We Collided, I knew it would be a different read than her first two books. I knew that it tackled a difficult subject and portrayed a character living with a mental illness. But what I didn’t know was how deeply the story of Vivi and Jonah would move me. It’s a difficult story to read at points, but also an important one. I’ve never read anything that dives so deeply into the meaning of mental illness and how it affects not only the person living with it, but the people in their lives.
Emery Lord’s writing is evocative and all-encompassing. Her ability as story-teller is taken to a whole new level in this novel.
What I loved most about this book was that it was equal parts Vivi’s AND Jonah’s story. I adored the dual point of view and truly believe that it further strengthened the narrative of the entire book. We don’t just get one side of the story, we get two, and in this book in particular, I feel that hearing those two voices was vital to my reading experience. I got to know Vivi and Jonah so intimately through Lord’s writing and am so blown away by how she was able to craft two extremely distinct voices into a single story. The flow was seamless and the transition from one point of view to the other was effortless.
Speaking of point of view, as much as I was invested in Vivi’s story, there was something about Jonah that just spoke to me. I have a feeling it’s because we’ve both experienced the same tragedy in our lives, so I felt a kinship towards him. But, I just couldn’t stop myself from yearning for Jonah to find a way through his OWN grief. The last chapter of this book is from Jonah’s perspective and it absolutely SLAYED me. I was in tears. It was beautiful.
When We Collided will forever stay with me as a reminder that no matter how messy life gets, there will always be people I love surrounding me and ready to hold me up.
In her third book, Emery Lord created the kind of story that her fans know and love her for, but also a story that needs to be read. Her words are thoughtful, informative and passionate, and it all comes together in the most beautiful way.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: It's happened. I never thought it would. But it has: I didn't completely love an Emery Lord novel. The Start of Me and You was one of the best things that ever happened to me and Open Road Summer inspires the same warm nostalgic feel in my gut whenever I think about it. So why didn't this happen with When We Collided?
When We Collided was much darker than Emery's previous books, even when Paige was dealing with grief and her fears in The Start of Me and You. I could feel Jonah's grief and struggle just as poignantly as I felt Paige's. Vivi, though, was going through something different. She seemed like she was in a upward spiral that would suddenly end in a broken off cliff and her only options would be to plunge off the edge or slowly trek down. I had a feeling she would plunge. She was wild and uncorraled (which apparently isn't a word, but it should be), and I think some guidance and a few restrictions would've been effective. Her mom was not a terrible mom by any means (YA has a lot of those, so I would know) but I felt she didn't parent effectively. I loved the storyline about Vivi's dad, though, and would've liked a little more build-up for that earlier on. In addition, I felt Vivi was too unrealistic at times - too out there and larger than life. Maybe that's part of her bipolar disorder, something I haven't seen in too many people I know in real life. But I felt like her dramatic personality was a bit too much for me.
Jonah was great, though. I obviously can't say if his perspective was accurate to a teen guy, but it was distinguishable from Vivi's. I loved how hard he worked and how much he cared - both about Vivi and his family. There's a quote towards the end of WWC that goes, "My cheeks are wet, but oh, my heart - it is so full" (pg. 328 of my ARC). Jonah's heart is so full, y'all. I loved how he liked his small town but he did want to leave. He didn't disparage Verona Cove, but he knew it wasn't the right place for him to spend the rest of his life. I loved hearing about his food passions (and believe me, I have recipe ideas brewing in my head for From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen). His family was great. I think I wanted a little more fleshing out for his younger sister Bekah and I almost wanted a flashback or a descriptive memory of the family before his dad died. Those would've made more of a good thing.
WWC has more foul language and sexual content than Emery's previous books, and neither of those are really my thing. That might've contributed to why I didn't love When We Collided.
The Verdict: I don't have that warm happy feeling in my gut like I get with Emery's first two books. But I still enjoyed When We Collided.
Don't let the 3 star rating deter you, I just don't think I'll reread it and even though I'm glad I finished the book there were several times I almost didn't.
Rating: PG-13 (profanity, the characters have sex but it's not at all graphic)