Review | Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

4.5 cupcakes

Open Road Summer has been highly recommended by so many book bloggers, which is probably why it took me so long to finally pick it up. Thankfully, it surpassed my already high expectations to quickly become one of my favourite reads of the year.

My favourite part about Open Road Summer was easily the strong, supportive friendship between Reagan and Dee. Like all relationships, it had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day, both girls were always there for one another. This is the kind of friendship that I wish I saw more often in YA novels, as it perfectly captured how I feel about my best friend.

Reagan is a character who could be tough to like, given her tough exterior. She’s angry, fairly judgmental, and stubborn, but despite this, I absolutely loved her. Her sarcastic quips made me laugh out loud, and I could relate to how she hid her heart behind a prickly exterior so that she wouldn’t get hurt again.

Emery Lord did an amazing job of portraying the both glamorous and less-than-lovely parts of living out your life in the public eye, humanizing Dee in spite of her celebrity status. Dee was sweet, ambitious, and incredibly down-to-earth so I truly felt sorry for her when the pressures of fame started to take their toll.

While the romance took the backseat to the friendship elements of the story, it was sweet and honest. Matt Finch has quickly found himself near the top of my list of book boyfriends, with his sweet, sensitive nature, genuinely nice attitude, and musical inclinations. I loved reading about his interactions with Reagan – while witty banter may be my weakness, I loved how they understood one another so well because they were both “broken.”

As an added bonus, Emery Lord’s songwriting abilities are just as perfect as her ability to craft believable, adorable relationships. I loved reading both Dee and Matt’s songs, and I feel like they would be fantastic if they were put to music.

The only complaint that I had about Open Road Summer was the heavy amount of girl hate, which was especially surprising given that the story was heavily focused on a strong female friendship. While I understand that jealousy and insecurities do lead to unkind thoughts, this behaviour was seen every time that another teenage girl stepped onto the page. If this had been mentioned and corrected as part of Reagan’s character growth, it would have been excusable, but that wasn’t the case.

Overall, Open Road Summer perfectly captures the feeling of summer: it’s fun, light, adorable, charming (here’s looking at you, Matt Finch), and put the biggest smile on my face. I’ll definitely be giving this a reread when the warmer weather rolls around!

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