Author: Emery Lord
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.Review by Nara
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.
Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.
*Note: This review has the minor spoiler about why Vivi has the above mentioned "zest for life". I think it's revealed somewhere between a quarter and half way through the novel*
Emery Lord is quickly joining my list of favourite contemporary authors. She writes such fantastic characters with interesting dynamics, including her swoony romances. When We Collided was a heavier read than The Start of Me and You and Open Road Summer, and while I found that I enjoyed it slightly less than those two, it was still a very well written novel that touched on a lot of relevant contemporary issues.
I feel like the portrayal of Vivi's hypomania/mania was quite realistic. The driven, energetic tone of the narration and her spontaneous, impulsive behaviour seemed quite similar to some the people with bipolar disorder that I've seen in real life. She may not be the most likeable character, but it was interesting to see the contrast between her and Jonah, who is much more conservative and appears to have more responsibilities in his life. Also, a sidenote: some people in other reviews I've seen are annoyed because Vivi seems like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Thing is, that label doesn't really work that well when the character is actually manic (or close to).
Jonah was such a fantastic character. He makes the most of his tragic situation, and tries to support his family even when he wants his own freedom and independence. I also really liked his siblings. Having many fictional siblings seems to be such an advantage in contemporary novels, I don't think I've ever read about a 5+ children family without liking them.
The romance between Vivi and Jonah is something that I feel like a lot of people might dislike. Mostly because Vivi does appear to "use" Jonah as someone to whirl along in her adventures, and Jonah has difficulty in saying no to her. But I think the romance was something that was needed for both of them to grow, even if I don't necessarily think that it would last long-term. I actually really liked the ending as well. It seemed like something that would actually happen in real life, considering the circumstances of the two characters, and didn't wrap everything up in an unrealistic bow.
When We Collided was quite good overall. I'd recommend it if you're looking for a compelling story that handles mental illness well.
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