When We Collided by Emery Lord | SLJ Review

redstarLord, Emery. When We Collided. 352p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619638457.Lord, Emery. When We Collided

Gr 8 Up –Filled with raw, descriptive truths and told through the alternating voices of the protagonists, this story takes place in the idyllic, picturesque setting of Verona Cove, CA. Small enough for everyone to know one another yet large enough to handle a summer tourist season, this background locale is a perfect nesting spot for the poignant love story between Vivi Alexander and Jonah Daniels. The collision between the teens crests and ebbs in what seems like a far too small window of time. Instead, the story dares to allow the action to rise and fall in an organic way. Teeming with in-your-face realism, the work exposes readers to the emotional ups and downs of Vivi, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Jonah, who is trying to hold himself, his siblings, and the family restaurant together as his mother falls apart after the death of her husband. Vivi’s struggles with taking medication, and her honest discussions of her brain’s chemical issues are evenly balanced with her portrayal as an artist who wants to leave her mark on the world. Jonah’s quiet strength as he steps into the role his father’s death left vacant and his willingness to share a piece of himself with Vivi make this a powerful book for reader engagement. The ending will have readers hoping for a sequel, though one is not needed. ­VERDICT An absolute tearjerker romance with a powerful message about weightier topics of grief and mental illness.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2016 issue.

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