book review: open road summer, emery lord

16081202 book review: open road summer, emery lordTitle: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Category: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Will publish April 15, 2014; Bloomsbury Children’s
Starred Review: 5 stars

I’m hungry for newness, a fresh start, a do-over. I want to reach back into my history with a grade-school pink eraser, scrubbing away my decisions like mistakes on a math test. Too bad I drew my mistakes in ink.

Sentences like this are one of the many reasons I loved loved loved Emery Lord’s debut Open Road Summer. First things first, I’m a sucker for beautiful covers with great typography. This one is one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Second, the writing is fantastic (more on that later). Third, all of the characters — all of them — are incredible. When I got to the end I realized I could not only keep reading but I could read a novel about each of the characters. I want to know each of their stories. I want to know everything.

As I’ve said before, it’s often harder for me to write a review for a book that I loved because all I want to do is say, “it’s awesome, read it now” over and over again without anything of substance. So …

It’s awesome. Read it now.

No, seriously. I could barely put Open Road Summer down. It has all of the things I love in great contemporary YA fiction.

Our narrator, Reagan, is great. She’s not perfect but not over the top littered with issues. She’s sarcastic and cynical but not to the point of me rolling my eyes. She’s hard to crack and doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve. She knows she needs a change in her life so she decides to do something about it. She isn’t sitting around waiting for life to happen around her; she’s doing something about it. Her BFF is country superstar Lilah Montgomery, and Regan is one of the few people who know her as Dee. She knows the person, not the performer. Reagan joins Dee on a summer tour road trip, which is just what she needs to escape the problems she has at home, at school, with past boyfriends, and even just with herself.

Then, of course, there’s Matt Finch. Ah, boys. I love a good boy in YA fiction, especially one who I can fall for right alongside everyone else. I don’t need a perfect boy. In fact, boys with non-stereotypical quirks and faults are even better in my book. And Matt Finch, former brother boy band now singer-songwriter will hold my heart right up there with other YA contemp favorite boyfriends.

But what I appreciated with Reagan and Matt is that I don’t think the novel was about their relationship or possible relationship or even about romance at all. While it’s there, and it’s done really, really well. Nothing feels forced, and better yet, both of them are separate, whole individuals even without the other person. I loved that.

If you can’t tell, I really loved Open Road Summer, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a witty, beautiful, intelligent, fun, and wonderfully written YA contemporary read!

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