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Standout Book: When We Collided

When We Collided

Today I want to shine the spotlight on When We Collided by Emery Lord, a new favorite book of mine. Of the three books I grabbed from the library, this one looked most promising, so of course I made myself wait and read it last. It did not disappoint. There are many aspects of the book (a bipolar character, a character suffering from the death of a loved one, and a split POV between the two love interests) that remind me of All The Bright Places, but the story and outcome are entirely unique to each book.

Characters: Our two main characters, Vivi and Jonah, could not be more different. Jonah is one of six children who recently lost their father. Their mother stays locked in her room all day leaving the three teenaged children to look after the "littles." Jonah, at seventeen, is the youngest of the older kids and ends up having to watch the children the most because Naomi and Silas are at their internship and job near constantly. As a result, Jonah is careful and always thinking like an adult. He resents his mother despite his best efforts to be understanding and is lost with how to help her. Jonah just tries to get through each and every day of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, running the chore chart, and breaking up fights between Bekah and Issac, the oldest two littles. There is the constant struggle between being forced into being a parent, not having the parent he needs, and wanting to be a teenager.
And then there is Vivi. She is outside the box, dresses in loud, inventive, vintage outfits and always wears red lipstick. With Vivi, she is so outside the box that she seems to even lack the concept of where the box is (but in the best way possible). She is passionate about everything she does whether its her fashion design, art, or playing with the littles, Vivi is present for everything. She struggles with wanting to feel things; to have the world glow in bright colors. The reader always knows that Vivi struggles with things both past and present, but she hides them well. We know there are medicines she is supposed to but doesn't take. But until the end we are never quite sure what it is. Vivi is poetic, free, imaginative, unique, and completely Vivi, but she is also haunted by the past and a bit broken. But she wears that proudly. Her survivl of the dark places is a badge she wears with pride. And I applaud her for that. I see a lot of myself in Vivi. She was a real, complex person who faced struggles and issues but still put energy and work into rising above them.

Plot: Vivi meets Jonah at her part time job at the pottery place. She's outgoing, bright, and, apparently, care free- the opposite of Jonah's life. Five-year-old Leah asks Vivi to come to dinner at their house, and Vivi accepts, painting her number on Jonah's arm. The opening scene sums up the novel so beautifully. Jonah is able to find someone new to town that doesn't know about his father's heart attack and their splintering family. And when Vivi learns about it, she embraces each member of the family. There is no pushing to know. She just accepts it because she know what it's like to have things you don't want people to know. The story shows the progressions of meetings as Vivi pushes to fix Jonah's shambled life in an effort to make herself feel. She helps mend his broken family, encourages him to try new things at the restaurant, and she lets him be a teenager for a bit. But with Vivi's problems, she's weary about letting anyone in even when Jonah just wants to help her. What the reader is left with at the end is a beautiful, fulfilling story. While the ending didn't make me cry like with All the Bright Places, I was completely okay with that because I still passionately felt every emotion I was supposed to feel. It connected me.

Writing: Just WOW!!!! Poetic, beautiful, flowing, emotional, real, honest, true, and so many more words. I felt like I knew the characters, and sometimes that the characters, mostly Vivi, were me. Lord made the characters into real people with real problems and jaded pasts and issues. And she doesn't give away all they'd been through, but she was able to make you feel their scars along with the triumphs of their past without having to say anything. The storytelling here was expert.

I'm amazed with this book and this story. It felt real and alive- living and breathing. It was broken and beautiful at the same time, which I find many things are, and it made me feel the emotions that bled through the pages. This is definitely a new book to add to my list of favorites and one that defiantly deserves a place on your reading list! Also, I have to mention how amazing this cover is and how well it sums up this book.
-Lauren

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