Contemporary Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads):
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?
There’s never a shortage of trepidation to be had when picking up the second novel by an author who blew us away with their debut, anxiety as to whether or not we’ll fall as hard for it as we did for its predecessor wreaking havoc on our insides as we crack the spine. What we find immediately with The Start of Me and You however is that our fear and anxiety are unnecessary, Ms. Lord’s sophomore novel a delight in every possible way as it proves that young adult friendships and romantic relationships don’t have to be full of angst to be thoroughly memorable and compelling.
Ms. Lord has a gift for writing teenage voices that are so genuine and believable that we immediately flashback to our younger selves, remembering the exact moment when we had the chance to show our high school crush just how cool we were by letting loose a remark so charmingly witty that they'd have no choice but to fall in love with us, only to be horrified by the inanity that escapes instead. Paige has more than a few of those moments, endearing her to us forever as we nod along knowingly and smile in shared embarrassment when those small moments don’t go as planned.
What’s so beautifully perfect about this tale–in addition to a standout protagonist who exudes warmth and the type of every-girl normalcy to which so many can relate–is that Ms. Lord has every opportunity to follow a familiar path with regard to the friendships and romance in this story, but at every turn she chooses to highlight the positive over the negative. The friendship between Paige and her three closest friends has moment after moment where things could easily turn sour, the relationship deteriorating into cattiness and jealousy as life happens, but instead the four of them prove that the strength of a friendship is proven in every day moments as much as it is in those of consequence.
The romance is adorably low-key, refusing to shift even slightly in the direction of a love triangle despite the presence of both longtime crush Ryan and perfectly nerdy Max. Ms. Lord once again chooses to portray teenagers with a maturity and humor that has us wishing we could bestow upon her the gift of speed writing so the wait for her next book might not be quite as long.