When We Collided: A Book Review


Happy Thursday, friends! It’s been so long since I last wrote a traditional book review that I found stringing my thoughts together quite difficult. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy today’s review of When We Collided – I’m convinced Emery Lord can do no wrong.

Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Published: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary
Source: Library / Hardcover
Series: None!

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.
Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.
Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.
In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers when I say that English is my favorite subject. The bookworm I am, I’ll take any chance to read and discuss novels, but additionally, I enjoy the opportunity to go deeper: to see how authors shape stories through language and structure; to find parallels in characters’ lives and storylines; to ask questions like “Why is it raining here?” or “Is the grass merely green or is it of greater importance?” {I’m nothing if not an English major in the making}.

Outside of the classics I read in class, the critical reading strategies still apply, even if not in the form of an essay or project. Take the main character, Vivi, in Emery Lord’s When We Collided, for example. “Vivi” has ties to the words ‘living” and “alive,” so a reader could only expect such a name to be matched to a vibrant and effervescent character. Vivi delivers, her personality shaped by longings for authentic relationships and a life of “paint palettes and sumptuous fabrics and star-flecked skies and dancing on [tiptoes] and the smell of jasmine.” As she adjusts after a move to California, she makes friends on the street, brings change to her new home, and explores all that the small beach town has to offer. A character with that level of expression can be difficult to portray on the page – a less experienced author may falter and lose connection with the audience – but Lord strikes a balance. Vivi is not always likeable, but she is human, and anyone can relate to that.

The name, however, serves a dual purpose, highlighting Vivi’s artistic energy, but also emphasizing the contrast between her “good” and “bad” moments. Mental illness has long been overlooked or worse, treated as nothing more than a plot device, in the young adult genre, so I applaud Lord for tackling the storyline with such delicacy and respect. I have no personal experience with bipolar disorder, so while I can’t speak to the accuracy of depiction, I can write on its emotional integrity: the extremes in Vivi’s feelings are written with a powerful sense of honesty, serving as the crux of the story and granting readers an open admission of life with a mental illness. Furthermore, that various methods of treatment are presented without judgment is further testament to Lord’s willingness to do right by the diverse YA community.

Vivi is joined in narrating the story by Jonah, a sweet-hearted teen and aspiring cook who meets Vivi at the pottery store. Jonah has worries and fears also, albeit of a different kind: what to do after the death of a dad and with a depressed mother? As I enter into my senior year, I’ve given more thought to the characters I encounter and how they relate to the teenage audience; in other words, for every YA book I read, I try to picture its characters as my friends, classmates, or peers {after all, they’re supposedly my age}. Jonah is realistic in every sense, his maturity not left without moments of temper or jealously. So too are the other inhabitants of Verona Cove; from Jonah’s adorable little sister Leah to Vivi’s gruff dining companion, each character is dynamic and purposeful, carrying stories of their own.

Lord, as she proved in her previous two releases, has a way with words, not just in character development, but in shaping the setting as well. She weaves details together to evoke the five senses, painting pictures of a bonfire on the beach, a moonlit dinner party, and open pottery sessions. In other words, she makes it easy to immerse oneself in the charming town of Verona Cove. Similarly, if you take away one lesson from reading When We Collided, let it be this: if you want to capture a reader’s attention, vivid descriptions of delicious meals can’t hurt.

My complaints are minor – many of them simply storylines that required more closure – and they certainly didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story. I finished feeling as if Vivi and Jonah had grown, but not to the point that there was nothing else for the two of them to learn – in other words, a natural close to an overall impressive story. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Lord’s next book, because I know what to expect: developed, realistic characters; deep, relatable storylines; and, most importantly, cute romances :) Now if only I could get us to read YA in lit class.

Have a terrific Thursday!


7 thoughts on “When We Collided: A Book Review

  1. I read this book earlier in the summer and loved it as well! It was my first book by Emery Lord, but it certainly won’t be my last! My favorite part of it was Jonah and his family, especially the way he took such great care of his siblings. Great review :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As usual, this is a fantastic review! Analyzing literature, whether modern YA, the classics we read in English class, or something else entirely, never gets old.

    As for the book itself, I’m even more excited to read it now. I especially liked your mention of the way Vivi’s name reflects her personality. I’m always a fan of those perfectly-on-point character names (that’s a good portion of why I love The Mysterious Benedict Society as much as I do!), and it sounds like Vivi will deliver. Complete with the sensitive-sounding depictions of bipolar disorder and the beautiful-sounding descriptions of California scenes, When We Collided seems amazing. :)


  3. […] When We Collided by Emery Lord | “[Lord] weaves details together to evoke the five senses, painting pictures of a bonfire on the beach, a moonlit dinner party, and open pottery sessions. In other words, she makes it easy to immerse oneself in the charming town of Verona Cove.” […]


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