When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Originally Published: April 5th 2016
Format: Paperback (344 pages)
Synopsis: Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.
My Rating: ★★★★
This book touched my heart, then it pulled it around a little, then it flipped it over and over before returning it to its normal steady rhythm. I guess what I’m trying to describe is the rollercoaster of emotions this book sent me through.
When We Collided is a dual narrative telling the story of Vivi and Jonah, two teenagers going through very different personal battles. Jonah has lost his father, his mother has secluded herself from the family and he is helping to keep his family together. Vivi arrives in his life as a kaleidoscope of vivid colour, imagination and happiness. It doesn’t take more than a few pages before their worlds have collided and we are thrown in deep with them.
Despite the description of this book focusing on Jonah, this is very much Vivi’s story. I absolutely loved her character and I thought she was extremely well written. We are tentatively drawn into her bipolar disorder with the mention of medication, experiencing her overwhelming highs as well as some of her rages and low moments. We know she has harmed herself in the past because of the mysterious scar that is sporadically mentioned and we know she has escaped to Verona Cove with her mother to get away from something that she did at home. It is not until the last 1/4 of the book that we truly see Vivi’s bipolar disorder take over and the words themselves are confirmed. Vivi’s journey in this book seemed so real to me and I can only praise Emery Lord for her carefully structured narrative. She truly brought Vivi to life and I felt overwhelmingly sad and happy for her at the end of this story.
Jonah was also a good character. Coping with grief is a very difficult thing to do and Jonah’s family were used to cleverly reflect the many ways in which humans learn to cope with loss. His mother has secluded herself from her children, too overcome with grief. The three older siblings are trying to take responsibility for the youngest siblings who are afraid that their older brothers and sister have already forgotten about their father. There are some really touching scenes in this book between the siblings and they felt very real.
The only thing I didn’t rate in the book was that this was indeed another case of instalove. I personally didn’t feel that the romance was required in this story. I liked the alternating chapters, I liked how the stories collided and at times became one. I just don’t feel that the romance added to what was already a wonderfully emotional story. I would also like to point out that I also don’t think the romance did anything to take away from the story either.
I would actually really love to see this book on screen as a movie. I think it had such a great mixture of happy, sad, funny and emotional moments. The characters were all well developed, even the side characters such as Ellie and Felix. I think this would have great potential as a movie and I don’t always feel this way about books.
What did I love most about the book?
I really thought that Vivi and her bipolar disorder were characterised and written in such a real and truly heartfelt way. It’s obvious that a lot of thought was put into Vivi’s character and that shines through on every page. I actually liked the way that Emery Lord tackled bipolar disorder face on in this book and it was painfully truthful.
“But the point is that trying to make things better sometimes makes us better, too. The point is I’m trying to create good things in the midst of the bad. Grief or no grief. And in my case, it’s still somewhere in between.”
“I know this feeling of being a ghost in your own life – no one sees you, no one feels you, so you stay still as if you could actually disappear at any moment.”
“That’s the thing they never tell you about love stories: just because one ends, that doesn’t mean it failed. A cherry pie isn’t a failure just because you eat it all. It’s perfect for what it is, and then it’s gone. And exchanging the truest parts of yourself–all the things you are–with someone? What a slice of life. One I’ll carry with me into every single someday.”
“You can ache for where you come from, and it’s homesickness. A relationship, and it’s heartbreak. But is there a word for missing your friends like that?”
I’m really glad that I read this and I think Vivi’s side of the story alone is incredibly important as it gives such a real message to readers about the reality of bipolar disorder. This is a wonderful book with fantastic characters and a message that I will remember for a long time.
Have you read When We Collided? What did you think?