BWW Review: OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
You might want to grab a poncho, bookworms. I'm about to drool all over you today. I loved OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord. Loved, loved, loved. And you know I don't say that lightly! Contemporary novels--and especially contemporary YA--are not my favorite thing to read. I can't tell you what it was about OPEN ROAD SUMMER, but I absolutely adored it. In March, I was going through a really bad reading slump, and this book plus Kasie West's THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US pulled me out of the slump (When no fantasy could!). If you haven't read it, you should. No, really, I don't care what genre you read. You should! This reminds me of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, a book I never thought I'd love, but I'm constantly re-reading various parts and I just love it and the characters so much. OPEN ROAD SUMMER has that same emotion for me, albeit in very different ways.
Reagan and her best friend Dee are both nursing broken hearts. Reagan broke up with her boyfriend after he cheated on her and contributed to the fact that her arm is now in a sling. Dee is a singing superstar, and had to break up with her true love due to the ugly side of fame. Dee is on tour this summer, and brings her bestie along for the ride. After a made-up scandal hits the tabloids, Dee's label adds former child sensation Matt Finch to the tour as an opening act. Dee and Matt are supposed to pretend they're in a relationship, but Reagan is falling for him for real. And that's a problem. Reagan isn't willing to destroy her friendship with Dee over a boy, especially now that she's turned over a new leaf. This summer will change Reagan and Dee in so many ways, bringing them closer together even as it tears them further apart.
This book. This book! I can't even explain what made it leave an imprint on my heart. It just made me happy. I hated putting it down, and just wanted to keep coming back and reading more. I loved Emery Lord's character development, and was sad there weren't more books by her to read right away. (Is it Spring 2015 yet??) I would love to see this picked up as a movie because I want to hear some of the songs from the book for real, especially the ones from Matt. They're just the sort of thing I'd have on my iPod (Some creative person needs to record "Human" on YouTube and share it as a fan project!). I really, really wish he was real! Dee reminds me of a cross between Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence. Her story resembles Swift's, and her personality (and the way she brings her besties to the best places!) remind me strongly of Lawrence. I sort of would love to see another book in this world just to see what happens to Dee, though I also don't think such a book is necessary. Reagan isn't just a tag-along, either. She has her photography, and a summer away from home is exactly what she needs to clean up the mess her life has become. At times, she can be unlikable, but she's also so easy to root for and care about. I just wanted her to be happy, to heal and move on. The friendship between Reagan and Dee was strong, too. I want more YA novels that have a good, solid friendship. Sure, there are bad situations that can tear friends apart, but if your friendship is strong enough, it can overcome anything. To me, the heart of this novel is the way these two girls support one another and grow together, even as life is moving them in different directions.
After re-reading the novel, I love it even more this time around. That's saying a lot. I loved many of the same moments that I did the first time around and had many of the same thoughts. But this time, I think I understood more of this book's heart. Yes, Reagan can be unlikeable and prickly. I get why some people have said that since the book came out and more people have read it. But she's REAL. In some ways, she's also a lot like me. She's as stubborn and bullish as I can be when I really stick to my guns, right or wrong. At times, I dig my heels in, too. There's a scene with Matt toward the end, when he's being cute and endearing and obnoxious and self-righteous all at once, and completely pissing Reagan off. I completely understood her crazy reaction, because that would so be me. As different as we are from one another, I completely "get" some of Reagan's jagged corners and embrace her, flaws and all. Honestly, it's more that she's a very private person at her core. She doesn't reveal her dysfunctional interior. She doesn't even like letting in the people around her, lest they can hurt her with that "knowledge" later. If you take the time to understand where Reagan's coming from, it's so much easier to completely love her.
If you're looking for a book that captures summer to read outside on a warm, sunny day, let it be OPEN ROAD SUMMER. It has that sense of "Wish Fulfillment," because who hasn't dreamed of being a famous actor or singer and going around being a superstar...or being the best friend of one and going along for the ride? It has a summer romance where the characters have to work for it rather than experiencing a rash case of insta-love. It has a beautiful friendship at its core. It has so much to offer, and it's just what the doctor ordered for you while you're on summer vacation!
OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord was published on April 15, 2014 by Bloomsbury / Walker.