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?
Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Publication date: March 31, 2015
I was worried The Start of Me and You would be too sad for me, but as it turns out, Paige and Aaron (the dead boyfriend) had only dated for two months before his death. She barely knew him. She knows that. She misses him, but what she misses more is the possibility, what might have been. She still has nightmares about his drowning death, but she’s ready to move on…
…With Ryan, her long-time crush. When Ryan actually notices her in a bookstore, Paige decides to add dating him to her plan. I never read a book’s synopsis right before I read the book, so I was rooting pretty hard for Paige and Ryan. If I had read it, I would have realized that Ryan wasn’t going the end up being the guy for Paige after all. Fortunately Ryan doesn’t turn out to be a jerk or anything, so it’s okay that I really like him all along. I like Ryan’s cousin Max, too. It doesn’t really matter to me which one of them she chose, which is part of the problem with this book. I enjoyed it and I read it in a day (a rarity for me with my short attention span), but it didn’t leave me feeling all swoony or anything. I guess I like Paige and Max more on a friendship level than a romantic couple level.
Friendship is an important theme in The Start of Me and You, with Paige’s best friends Tessa, Morgan, and Kayleigh playing a big part in the book. They’re always there for each other and have been a valuable support system for Paige while she’s been dealing with Aaron’s death. Kayleigh is a little less present now because she has a boyfriend of her own, which is realistic, but it’s obvious that she’s going to be there when Paige or one of the others truly needs her. It’s so nice to see a strong female friendship group (rather than just a pair of best friends) and it’s also nice to see them open it up to include Ryan and Max. I loved reading about Paige’s time on the QuizBowl team too (and two more new friends, plus Max). It’s a step out of her comfort zone, but by the end of the QuizBowl season, she loves it and she’s gained a lot of confidence.
I haven’t read Emery Lord’s debut Open Road Summer, but The Start of Me and You is one of the books I’ve been anticipating the most for 2015. It’s almost as good as I expected. I just didn’t feel the chemistry between Paige and Max the way I needed to for it to be a five-star book.