I’ve read both of Ms. Lord’s previous books, Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You, and enjoyed them both. I was expecting more of the same with When We Collided – a cute summer contemporary with a main character who I could fall for. But Emery Lord has changed everything with this book, including my expectations of her writing.
When We Collided is different from the authors other works in many ways. The first being that this is told from two points of view – Vivi’s and Jonah’s. I found Vivi hard to relate to, because I don’t suffer from bipolar disorder (I’ll talk more about that in a minute). Her point of view was INTENSE to say the least, and I needed several breathers to stop and think about what I was reading. It was a bit much, but still very appreciated.
Jonah, the main guy and, of course, the love interest, is a total sweetheart. I connected with him a lot more because I have a bunch of siblings, the youngest of which I pretty much raised myself a lot of the time. I also related to Jonah a lot because he is trying to deal with the loss of his father, as well as look after the family business and his younger siblings. After my grandmother died, my mum had a bit of a breakdown and everything went to shit around me. I was thirteen. So Jonah is basically my spirit animal and I adore him and I want to hug him.
Before I get into the deeper stuff, I also have to mention the cooking. Jonah is a chef-in-training and is helping to run his father’s restaurant. And guys. GUYS. Don’t read this book if you’re hungry.
So, on the topic of mental illness and Vivi’s bipolar disorder. I found it incredibly hard to read about, because I don’t have any experience with it. Not hard in a “woah this is War and Peace levels of literature” way, but in a “woah I can kind of see what’s happening here but without first hand experience I can’t truly understand” way. Does that make sense? I can’t recall ever reading from the point of view of a character with bipolar disorder before, so this was quite an experience. And clearly a much needed one.
All that said, I still really appreciated some of the things that Lord brings up which can be related to various different mental illnesses. For example, she talks about how taking pills to manage your illness doesn’t make you less of a person. As someone who has severe social anxiety and plain ol’ “regular” anxiety, I liked that. It gave me something to think about.
The ending had me absolutely sobbing, particularly the last few pages and then THE AUTHOR’S NOTE. Lord said she wasn’t sure she was going to write one, but I’m so glad that she did. I loved it.
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