First Lines: I knew I was in love with Verona Cove on the first day, but I waited until the seventh day to commit. After one week here, I’m carving my name into a tree in the center of town.
Getting my hands on a new Emery Lord novel was a lot like suddenly coming into possession of a rich piece of chocolate: I wanted to savor it and draw out the enjoyment.
At seventeen, Jonah never pictured his life turning out the way it has as he deals with his family falling apart. Why would he? Still, he never pictured someone like Vivi coming into his life, all charisma and charm. Vivi never expected someone like Jonah to light up her world. It may be the summer neither of them imagined, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
Let’s go back to that aforementioned chocolate analogy. This book ended up being the surprise chocolate in the box…the one with the weird orange creme filling that you’re not sure you like.
I adore Emery Lord, in her books and on Twitter where she frequently lambasts anyone who tries to “put women in their place.” I love her attitude. But this book just wasn’t it for me.
I loved Jonah. He’s saddled with a horrible situation that doesn’t really seem to be getting better no matter what he does. But Vivi is like a firework in his dark sky, lighting it up with sparks and color. I truly felt for him.
I just couldn’t get into Vivi’s character. Vivi struggles with mental illness. (I don’t think I’m spoiling anything if I tell you she’s bipolar. I knew that going into this book.) And while I appreciate what this book is trying to do, bringing attention to mental illness and making it real to those who have no experience with it, it wasn’t working for me. Vivi was unpredictable and brash and–I felt–uncaring. Some of this is 100% a part of being bipolar. I get that. But I didn’t like Vivi. I didn’t like the way she treated Jonah sometimes. My personality is the exact opposite of Vivi: I like order and routine whereas she could skinny dip one minute and want to paint a mural the next. That’s not me in the least and it made it difficult for me to want to read about Vivi. (No matter how I try to say this, I feel like I’m somehow bashing people who are bipolar because they can’t help some of this and that is truly not my intent in the least.)
I was also really looking forward to Lord’s sarcasm and snark. It was heaviest in Open Road Summer, but still present in the follow-up novel as well. There’s none of it here. There are few jokes and even fewer moments of comic relief. I was disappointed in that and I think that also played into my struggles with this book.
So it didn’t work for me. However, it was really well-written and I think there is a large audience that would enjoy. I just happen to not be one of those people. But if it sounds like it appeals to you, I encourage you to try it.