Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Open Road Summer
Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Walker Children's
Date of Publication: April 15, 2014

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.

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's and NetGalley for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

So I read this one last April 8, 2014. Yes, guys, it's almost been a year since I first read it and I still haven't reviewed it. Here was my feeble attempt on reviewing it right after I read it:

I feel like I can never review this because I love it. SO. MUCH. The perfect summer read. Love the characters, the plot, the music, everything. I just EMERY LORD, YOU SLAY ME.
Now, I've just finished reading Open Road Summer for the sixth time (five re-reads in a year, yes, I just can't help it) but I still can't promise that this will be a coherent review. Every time I read it, I end up just bursting with exclamation marks to slam and give out, inhibiting me from writing a review. But hey, challenge accepted!

It's so hard to find a YA novel that presents such deep, glorious, and enviable friendship as the one in Open Road Summer. What I'm trying to say is, we all know the best friend stereotype. Always relegated to the side when the love interest comes by. Must be sassy and/or funny. I'm so tired of the token best friend and how this character is so flat. So what a breath of fresh air is Open Road Summer in this aspect. Dee never felt like a sidekick in here. Emery Lord wrote such a fantastic friendship between Reagan and Dee. They might be way different now but they understand and pick up each other. They're each other's rock. Their friendship withstood and will continue to withstand everything in its path. This is so rare, guys. So rare to be able to read a friendship portrayed as greatly in this novel. In this aspect alone, this novel got my whole heart now.

This book really is the perfect summer read. A roadtrip with your best friend and romance with a certain boy (who's a famous singer pretending to be her best friend's boyfriend for publicity so SNEAKY SNEAKY) = DIANNE SLAIN BY SWOON. This book has EVERYTHING I could ask for and EVERYTHING on my auto-buy tropes which are road trips and the love interest being a celebrity. Then not only is the boy a celebrity but a swoontastic one at that who smirks all the time but is very sensitive and I'm putty. Witness the glob of melted Dianne that is now in front of you.

Matt Finch is WOW. I mean, I don't even know where to start. Oh yeah, THE BANTER. Reagan and Matt's banter was so snappy and witty and IT IS LIKE A BONE TO A DOG. I was salivating for more MORE MOAAARRR and I gobbled it up. Matt Finch, good lord. Matt Finch singing. Matt Finch topless. Matt Finch EVERY DAY ANY DAY ANY TIME EVERY SECOND. I couldn't get enough of Matt and his straight-from-the-heart songs and how, just, HE'S PERFECT OKAY.

So, let's delve into the other aspects of the film because you might think I only loved this for Matt. Reagan, oh, Reagan. This summer roadtrip was supposed to be a way to heal old Reagan's wounds and pave way for the new Reagan. Her mom left her and her dad at an early age and with Dee not in school anymore due to her country star duties, Reagan ended up in a lot of trouble. Not to say that she didn't do well in school because she did. But you could say that she hung out and dated the wrong guys. And now her arm is in a cast and she wants to move on and change. While Reagan is more spiky than a porcupine, you can easily see through her defenses. She retorts and spars and is mighty protective of Dee in every single aspect but inside, she's really vulnerable. She admits to herself that she went too far and her arm being in a cast is a wake-up call to change. (Of course, the reason for the cast will be explained in the novel.)

For a seemingly swoony summer read, Open Road Summer has its share of surprising depth and I loved that. We have Matt who lost his mom to cancer and who's not sure what to do with his life as well. I mean, just, I love all the giddy feels but when a book can ALSO make you cry by baring its heart out? YES. ALL THE TIME.

Some people didn't like Reagan as she kept on judging other girls for what they wear and all that. I think it was authentic. It's not right, yes, but tell me you've NEVER hated on another girl just because you're jealous or envious of her. It's wrong, yes, but it's common. Why do we even want our characters to be perfect? I like them more with flaws. Or maybe it's just I can easily read Reagan even if she has all of these brickwalls around her.

God, I'm not doing this book justice. JUST READ IT, OKAY. I love it and I will continue to shove this to anyone who loves reading contemporary YA romances because THIS. IS. THE. REAL. DEAL. Emery Lord knows how to write contemporary YA romances, no shit.

About Emery Lord

Emery Lord is a 20-something Midwestern girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you're not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name "Emily," and that will get you really close.   

She lives in Cincinnati in a 100 year-old pink row house with her BFF/husband, a closet full of dresses, and lots of books. If karaoke-ing in grocery store aisles or guzzling coffee while impulse shopping were illegal, Emery would be writing her overemotional YA books from jail. Also, she makes up words sometimes. Like combustibly.

OPEN ROAD SUMMER, her first YA novel, is out April 15th, 2014. A second YA novel TBD will be released Spring 2015.

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