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Emery Lord is the author of Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You, and When We Collided. She lives in a pink row house in Cincinnati, with a husband, two rescue dogs, and a closet full of impractical shoes.
Like When We Collided and Open Road Summer, The Map from Here to There demonstrates Emery Lord’s talent for capturing the exhilaration and angst of characters on the cusp of adulthood. “I was beginning to think that half of growing up was figuring out when to let go and when to hold on,” Paige muses partway through her story journey, but being an anxiety prone over-thinker, that’s not an easy conundrum to crack. After the pain of her first boyfriend passing away a few years back, life has taken an upward turn. She has a set of supportive friends, she’s excited by the prospect of studying screenwriting, and she’s besotted with her new boyfriend Max. But having such an active life – working shifts at a cinema, applying to college, taking on a theatre internship, wanting to spend time with Max and her friends - begins to take its toll. Paige wants it all, but big decisions must be made, and the trouble is, saying yes to one thing (like choosing where to go to college) means saying no to another. When fatalism kicks in and affects her close relationships, Paige takes heart from her mom’s wise words: “As much as I love a pro-and-con list – and you know I do – sometimes you have to ignore all of that. Your gut instinct can say a lot.” Authentic, honest and shot through with empathy, this offers a helping hand to young adults navigating similarly confusing crossroads, alongside being an out and out entertaining story.
In a Nutshell: Road-trip, romance, fame and friendship Surely one for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, this smart coming-of-age story reels with romance, life lessons and big questions about finding your way. Seventeen-year-olds Reagan and Dee are “friends for infinity”, but they’re also opposites: “In a fairytale, she’d play the good fairy. I’d be the evil witch’s screwup step cousin”, Reagan remarks with characteristic wryness. While Reagan has a history of bad girl behaviour (underage drinking, court appearances and picking bad boys), Dee is a country music superstar who “acts either thirty years old, like a composed professional” or, when she’s with Reagan, “like a twelve year old”. But this summer Reagan plans to get her life back on track as she joins Dee’s first major headline tour. With both girls trying to get over broken relationships, this summer road-trip is a fresh start for them both, but their plans are immediately tainted when a magazine runs a salacious story about Dee. Enter Matt Finch, Dee’s wholesome label-mate. He’s invited to join her tour as a ploy to shift press attention from the alleged “scandal” to speculation that there might be something between him and Dee. The truth is, it’s Reagan who falls for Matt, with his understated handsomeness and a straight-talking vibe she totally relates to. As their romance ignites with electrifying passion, there’s a rocky road ahead for all three as further salacious allegations are made and various mounting pressures threaten friendships and burgeoning romance. The music tour set-up makes this an entertaining escapist page-turner, with the relatable real-life conundrums and dramas providing thought-provoking profundity – the essential ingredients of a rollicking summer read.
In a nutshell: moving story of a teenage girl coping when her world turns upside down Lucy’s life seems pretty sorted: she’s got a lovely boyfriend, a good relationship with her parents, and as a practising Christian is supported and nurtured by her faith. But then she learns her mother’s cancer has come back, and suddenly everything she’s taken for granted falls away. As she’s struggling to adjust, her mother asks her to take a summer job at a camp for children who’ve experienced trauma. Lucy accepts, and there finds new friends, and a new perspective. Meanwhile though, her mother’s cancer is spreading. Full of interesting, memorable characters, this thoughtful and well-written book tugs at the heartstrings.
17-year-old Jonah Daniels lives in Verona Cove, California and, like his Sicilian dad, has a real talent for cooking. But, six months ago, Jonah lost his dad and he’s now shouldering responsibility for his large family. Life is looking pretty bleak until the infectiously vivacious Vivi bursts into their lives like the first sunshine after winter. In Jonah's words, Vivi “looks like lemon meringue pie tastes. Sunny, tangy, sweet”, while she’s intensely attracted to Jonah and “feels love at first sight for an entire family.” Undulating like the waves of the Pacific, Vivi’s vitality uplifts the Daniels’ household, thus going some way to quench her own need to be needed. For Vivi, kissing Jonah is “a warm feeling that rushes through my whole body and soothes my busy brain”. But Vivi’s “busy brain” isn’t really soothed and, when her impulsiveness cascades into uncontrollable recklessness, Jonah realises that he’s not the only one who needs help. Poignant and profound, Vivi and Jonah’s story will linger long after the novel’s moving conclusion. While they both have a way to go, seedlings of hope have been planted in both their beautiful, big hearts. This is a truly remarkable novel about trying to navigate one’s way through the murky waters of grief and mental illness, and the dizzying wonder of falling madly in love. ~ Joanne Owen
Can you plan happiness? It's been a year since Paige's first boyfriend died in a swimming accident and it's time she rejoined the real world. So she makes a plan: 1. Date a boy (long-standing crush Ryan Chase seems like the perfect choice) 2. Attend parties (with best friends by your side: doable) 3. Join a club (simple enough, right?) 4. Travel (might as well dream big) 5. Swim (terrifying. Impossible) But when she meets Ryan's sweet but so nerdy cousin, Max, he opens up her world and Paige's plans start to change. Is it too late for a second chance at life? Brimming with characters so real you feel you could pick up the phone and call them, The Start of Me and You will prove that it's never too late for second chances. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven and John Green. Chosen by bestselling author Amy Alward as part of the 2017 Zoella Book Club!