Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it's never too late for second chances. 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?
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Oh, guys. Oh, man. I think I’m in love. I KNOW I’m in love. This book made me feel all warm and fuzzy and I just wanted to reread it the second I put it down.
I love, love, LOVE books with strong friendships. I honestly like reading about friendships more than romantic relationships sometimes. Paige has three of the best friends in the world. The four of them are a unit, and even when they fight, they never hesitate to act if one of them needs help. They’re best friends in every sense of the word and I adored their joking, heart-wrenching, supportive moments.
And even though they’re complete as is, they also form real, close friendships with Ryan and Max over the course of the novel. I loved how these two boys fit in with the girls, how natural it was for them to join the group.
And then there’s the romance between Paige and Max. It’s so adorable and geeky and wonderful that I’m smiling just thinking about it. I just want to watch them fall in love over and over again.
The Final Verdict:
The Start of Me and You is a contemporary novel you just can’t miss. Seriously…go out and buy it NOW.
Paige Elizabeth Hancock is tired of That Look. She’s tired of being defined as the girl whose boyfriend drowned. Even though it’s been two years, everyone knows about Aaron, so she’s seen as a grieving widow, even though they’d only been together for a couple of months. Going into her junior year, Paige wants to finally finish grieving and get a fresh start. With this in mind, like any good planner, Paige makes a list of goals: 1) go to a party 2) join a group 3) date 4) travel & 5) swim.
The Start of Me and You is a romance at its heart, but there’s a lot of other things going on here. For all that the ship is central, there’s very little actual romance in it. Though it feels fluffy, The Start of Me and You gets pretty sad sometimes too. Emery Lord excels at really building lives for her characters. It’s not just about Paige’s love life, but also about all of her family relationships, her friendships, and her feelings about Aaron. That’s a lot to handle in one relatively short novel, but Lord gets it done like a boss.
Paige starts off on the list like the goal-oriented girl she is, expecting to be a better her by the time she hit the end of it. She finds, as all of us do, that life isn’t that simple. What she thinks she wants isn’t necessarily going to be what she needs, and she can’t rush to acceptance. It’s a process. Life is a process. We’re all of us constantly growing, changing, and learning from our inevitable and plentiful mistakes; at least, we’re learning if we’re wise enough to pay attention. What I love so very much about The Start of Me and You is that in pretty much every character we get to know at all, this is so evident. Heck, we even get a small window into Ryan’s ex-girlfriend who makes a brief appearance. These characters are so dynamic, and the arcs are powerful.
Years before the book began, Paige’s parents got together. It was a painful time, but Paige was glad that they got divorced, because they were so much healthier and happier apart. More to the points, they were better parents apart. At the beginning of the novel, they drop the bombshell that they’re dating. Each other. It’s supposed to be the dream of every kid whose parents are divorced right?
For Paige, it’s not. Paige doesn’t take the news well, and, as much as she is really built to, rebels. She’s very much not supportive. This leads to fights with her younger sister, who takes a more Hayley Mills or Lindsay Lohan approach to parental reunion. The Hancocks are a very loving and believable family, but they have their issues to resolve. When the novel closes, things aren’t perfect, but they never can be; they are, however, hopeful.
Even more than those family relationships, I adored Paige’s with her grandmother. Paige tells her Grammy everything. Though Grammy’s memory is going, Paige will tell her over and over, because that’s how much she loves her and respects her advice. Her Grammy is a real hero for her. Their relationship is so sweet and a little bit sad. Also, Grammy is such a shipper, which I love her for forever.
The friendships too are a thing of a beauty. Paige has three close friends: Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan. Tessa and Paige are besties, as are Kayleigh and Morgan, but the group as a whole is very solid. That doesn’t mean that jealousies and fights don’t crop up, because of course they do, but they always get dealt with. Bottom line: they’re always there to support one another. The way the heroine in Open Road Summer reacted to female characters who weren’t her best friend was the biggest issue that I and many others had with Lord’s debut, and nothing remotely similar is present in The Start of Me and You.
In junior year, those four add two new friends: Ryan Chase and his cousin Max Watson. Ryan was Paige’s goal boy for that third goal, dating. Max, who’s also his best friend, quickly becomes one of Paige’s best friends. They bond over literature, grammar, and pop culture. Obviously, I had some amount of feels about this. No, for real, Max is one of my favorite book boys ever. He’s so smart and adorable and nerdy banter like WHOA. While I would have liked a few more chapters of happy coupleness at the end, this book still has one of the hottest non-kiss scenes ever in a book. For the record though, there will actually be kissing, but prepare to do a lot of shouting at the book first.
My reservations regarding The Start of Me and You are so trivial that some of you will probably laugh at my nitpicking, but I can’t leave them unsaid. Paige is a “Grammar Girl,” though she’s embarrassed by the designation. Yet, this happens: “me and Aaron” (48). It’s in the title too. While the internet is of two minds about whether putting yourself first is grammatically incorrect or just impolite, I really don’t think it’s something a grammar nerd would do. Paige also claims to be a pop culture aficionado, but she didn’t know there was more than one Indiana Jones movie. She’d also never heard of Firefly and didn’t bother to look it up. Small, yes, but they made me question Paige a bit.
Let’s be real, guys. I’ll be reading absolutely anything this woman writes; I don’t care what it is. Any author who can bring the swoon like this is an author I will keep reading.
Paige has an amazing support system throughout The Start of Me and You. Her three best friends, Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan are the absolute best example of how friends can really help you through the toughest times. No lie, it really made me miss my two best friends from high school, because we are scattered through the east coast now! All of the girls were also well written as individuals that function as a part of a whole unit. I loved that these characters could stand on their own with their differences, but they worked better as a friend group. Paige isn’t the only one who has problems, but they continually step up to help one another through anything.
As for the two main male characters, Max and Ryan, I think that Lord concocted a very interesting juxtaposition between them, especially since they are best friends. Ryan is described as being bright blonde and blue eyed, while Max has darker hair, green eyes, and glasses. Ryan is the hot guy jock and Max is the adorable, gangly nerd. The novel immediately sets up Ryan as the main love interest for Paige, but Lord does a good job of displaying how Paige and Ryan would not fit, regardless of how stubborn Paige is in her crush. While Max sneaks up on Paige and her heart, it was clear to me from the beginning that she would end up with him, but that did not deter me at all. As Max says in the story, “Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.”
Lord really outdid herself with the relationship between Paige and her Grandmother. Not only was Grammy struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but she suffers from two strokes as well. Paige is extremely close to Grammy and considers her the only person she can share secrets with. They have such excellent conversations, and the dialogue in these scenes is on point. Lord made me cry a number of times during the scenes with Grammy, as it really reminded me of my relationship with my Mawmaw, who passed on a few years ago.
This novel really hit home with me, and I hope everyone will pick up a copy and read it.
This book was cute, just so cute. I had a smile on my face most of the time while I was reading it. I really enjoyed Emery Lord’s first book, Open Road Summer, but this one topped that one. It had a lot of the elements I loved from the first book but added more to love.
I really felt for Paige through the book. The book was her journey of healing from both her boyfriend’s death and the fear and PTSD that she suffered from afterward. It was also about her re-discovering herself after being ‘the girl whose boyfriend died’ for so long. She was a genuinely nice person and so loyal to her friends. I loved the relationships she had with her friends, the ones that developed with Ryan and Max, and the ones she had with her family. All of them were so well written and believable.
Paige’s group of friends was small but close. Each of them had a very distinct personality so they all stood out. The friendship between them was one of my favourite things about this book. There were fights and disagreements and uncomfortable moments just like in any friendship but they knew they had each other’s backs no matter what. Adding in Ryan and Max to that small group made for an interesting dynamic and I really liked that it was more focused on friendship and supporting each other than on romance.
Not to say I didn’t enjoy the slow burn romance. It was very cute and sweet. Each moment made me fall more for Max. He was so perfect for Paige even if it took her a while to figure it out. And he loved Firefly! Heart stolen.
The plot was a lot more complicated than just being about Paige trying to succeed with her plan. It was about facing her fears, about falling for the person instead of a pretty face, about realizing and going for your dreams. It was about strong friendships and new romances. It was about healing and about growing up. It was impossible to put down.
I adored that friendship and family were featured asking with the introspective healing and handling fears and the way grief changes the main character throughout. I grew up very xml lose with my grandma and really related with her wanting to share her secrets and get advice. Her grandma like mine is dealing with memory loss and it is hard to see someone you love dealing with those types of health issues and the fear that you might have to watch them forget who you are.
I liked that she was organized and goal oriented. Her list has things that she believes will stretch her and hopefully guide her back to some sense of normalcy and happiness after tragedy.
I liked Paige`s character and I connected with her pretty well. She has several things going on that makes her story have an emotional impact. She is recovering from the accidental drowning of her boyfriend. Its left a pretty big impact on her. She hasn't nightmares about drowning and she doesn't do anything near standing water now. There's also her parents who were divorced and she was actually kind of relieved because of their fighting... she just saw that they made each other miserable. But now they're dating again and she is afraid that it will happen again.
I like how friendship was a big theme in this book. however having three best friends was kind of overwhelming for me at times. The girls all have different personalities, different ways that they met Paige and different families difficulties of their own. So not really sure why I had such a hard time remembering which was which unless it's just the case of being handed too many characters all at once.
The romance was pretty sweet. I like that she had a crush on Ryan even before he was popular. I even like her reasoning behind it because she had seen him with his sister who had cancer and he was dancing shamelessly in the middle of the grocery store just to make her laugh. Ever since then she has harbored the crush on him. But in the process of trying out new things in order to help her have a better year and also wanting to get closer to Ryan she starts falling for his very nerdy but also very sweet cousin Max.
I love her friendship with Max and even though it started out as a reason just to get closer to Ryan, they developed a deeper bond and a trust that I really loved. It was the best kind of slow burning romance I adore and every time that there is nerdy love, of course, I have to be all over it. My husband's one of the more nerdy type so Max reminds me a lot of him. I love how he listens without judgement and how he made her feel so comfortable and that he opened up to her as well.
There's a pretty big fight between them and I was really anxious about if things will be able to be patched up between them and it was hard to see how much careless words can really damage another person. I think it made the story super realistic, especially when we find out why Max was having more distance between them after and Paige was trying to be grown up about it.
I really connected with Paige as she continued her closeness with her grandma. Her grandma has Alzheimer's and she also had a stroke and it sounds just so much like my grandma who I lost a few years ago that it just made my heart ache. I love how Paige trusted her and talked to her about everything and it just really makes me miss the days that I had with my grandma and the time that we had and how I felt that she understood me better than so many other people.
I really liked how much Paige's character grew throughout the story. She learned so much about herself and how to move on after the tragedies of life. She learned to let new people in and she also kept supporting the friends that she had had for years. She realized how much in friendship and with family you're supposed to depend on one another and share each others problem. With that, the punch card is never full because you bear their burdens as well. I think that the loss of her boyfriend Aaron will always shape some of the ways that she looks at life but I like how she realized that it didn't have to define her and that she could move on from her fears a little bit at a time. Also that she can keep his memory alive with others who also misses him.
I really like tells the story ended-- how things were wrapped up but also that we had room in our own imaginations to make more of a future and relationship with the characters that we had met. I definitely wouldn't mind another book about Paige and Max although I doubt that there will be one. But maybe they'll be a companion novel about one of her friends and will get a peek into what becomes of them after their summers and finally admitting things to themselves and each other.
Bottom Line: Emotional story that focuses on friendship, family, love and loss.