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?
My poor friends back home have all listened to me rave over Open Road Summer, which has become a sort of standard for contemporary YA books in my mind, given its strong female friendships and adorable romance. So it should come as no surprise that The Start of Me and You had been on my to-read list for months – and I’m very happy to say that I liked it even more than Open Road Summer.
Our protagonist, Paige Hancock, is real, flawed, and incredibly easy to identify with. Although my new start was a result of completely different circumstances (moving to Waterloo for university), I had a similar approach: create a checklist, which may or may not have included making friends with cute boys and joining a bunch of clubs. I’ve experienced the same insecurities and fears as Paige (and still do, in some cases), and her deep love for books, her family, and her friends immediately endeared her to me.
Paige’s support system was absolutely wonderful. Her home life is filled with love and support, from her parents and her little sister, and Paige’s close-knit relationship with her grandmother was incredibly touching. Like Open Road Summer, there is an emphasis on strong female friendships. Paige’s best friends (Tessa, Morgan and Kayleigh) are wonderfully supportive. Although they bickered occasionally – but honestly, which friends haven’t? – they were always there for one another, and each girl had an important and distinct presence in the group. I also loved how the friend group eventually evolved to include a couple of guys, and still kept the same dynamic instead of leading to cattiness and drama.
And, of course, there’s the romance. It’s a slow-burn unlikely-friends-to-something-more kind of relationship, and it had me grinning like crazy every time Paige and Max interacted. I love how they confided in one another and became integral parts of each other’s support system, while also using Pride and Prejudice as inspiration for their flirting. Their nerdy banter was so adorably sweet, and it’s safe to say that Max Watson is someone who I wish I knew in real life.
Overall, The Start of Me and You can be summed up in two words: absolute perfection. It was so, so cute – both in terms of the romance, and Paige’s rock-solid support system – while still managing to cover serious topics. I can’t wait to fall in love with Emery Lord’s next book!
I received a copy of this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.