a debut book by Emery Lord
published on April 15th 2014 by Walker Books
Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance/Road Trip/Music/Drama
finished reading at April 24th
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
I expected soo many things upon reading Open Road Summer. Other reviewers and fellow readers have mentioned that this debut book by Emery Lord contains my usual go-to-keywords in books such as summer, road trip, music, celebrity life, cute romance, and all that... Well the 'road trip' part was kinda a let down, because the cities were not mentioned descriptively, just in passing, but other things were delivered greatly, much to my satisfaction. For a YA debut book, it's such an excellent one! Allow me to fangirl for a while about this book. :D
Emery Lord started Reagan O'Neill's story with the right amount of exposition. Reagan, soon to be a senior in high school, is touring on the bus with Delilah Montgomery, after an ugly drama happened with Reagan's ex-boyfriend. Dee (or Lilah, as the public knows her) is not only Reagan's bestfriend, but she is also a teenage hearthrob, a successful young country singer which the country loves. When a love-from-the-past scandal strikes to jeopardize Dee's career, Dee's management team decided to invite Matt Finch, another young artist from the same record label, in their summer tour. Matt will act as the opening for Dee's every concert stop, and their closeness was hoped to avert the public's attention into their 'relationship' instead of Dee's past. But wait, this is Reagan's story. What happened to Reagan? Well, Reagan and Matt unexpectedly fall in love with each other...
I'm glad that Emery Lord keeps the drama of the story away from Reagan and Dee's friendship. I adore these girl's connection! For every ups and downs, they support and never hesitate to be frank with each other. It just seems so fun, having the genuine proximity that these girls have since they were basically little ordinary kids, until now when they're both in high school and one of them is living such a glamorous life as a newborn star. Somehow, Open Road Summer reminds me a lot of Taylor Swift and her friend, Abigail, which she wrote about in one of her songs too, titled 'Fifteen'. 'Open Road Summer' is Dee's song about Reagan. They're both superclose, and just like Swift, Dee is a country singer.
Reagan is an interesting character who I quickly liked and felt close with, with all of her complexities. Coming from a family which mother ran away when Reagan was still a kid, she becomes a rebellious teen, someone whose names scribbled in the bathroom stalls, has so many boyfriends and sham relationships, a drunk heartbroken father, isn't close with her stepmother, ever got arrested once for DUI, ever had a therapyst... All the things that are basically every mother's nightmare about a girl. But I love this girl! New Reagan is meany-snarky-sarcastic most of the time, but underneath all her 'tough girl' image, she's actually just a broken girl who fears being abandoned, because every person in her life had done nothing but that. I also love that Reagan is a rational, strong-willed girl who always knows what she wants to pursue in life (photojournalism in NYU, which is just so cool), and despite all the 'troublemaker girl' reputation, still make efforts to top her academic classes. In addition, she makes a great bestfriend too! A totally pleasurable girl to know, we'll surely get along in an instant.
Reagan and Matt's romance in Open Road Summer is such a delight to read! They cannot deny the sparks of attraction, though both tries to avoid (all while being passive-agressive, subtly flirting with each other) it first. Matt is supposed to be Dee's fake-boyfriend while Reagan... well, she isn't ready yet to start a new romantic relationship after what happened before the summer started. Not sure how to start trusting someone again, wearing a heart on your sleeve waiting for it to be crushed, something like that. I love all the moments Emery Lord writes about them. I love how Matt dares to confront Reagan, insisting that they're 'good for each other'. The kind of confident-attitude from a boy that is just so hard to resist. By being together, they heal and comfort each other. My favorite part of the book is the festival! In a Fourth of July celebration, Reagan and Matt took a break from the 'hollywood' scene to play all day, riding the elephant machine, ferris wheel, and swimming in a lake. Not to mention the picnic scene! Oh, such a gentleman, Matt Finch is. Adorable southern boy with boyish looks and cute dimples. All of their scenes give me such a fuzzy, warm, feeling and my cheeks hurt from grinning too much. These lovebirds are just so cute :>
“When his eyes land on me, something about his expression changes—like he recognizes me from somewhere, too. I look back, appraising him quickly. He’s kind of beautiful, in an understated, comfortable-looking way—the kind of guy who doesn’t mind seeing a rom-com with you and gives you his hoodie when you’re cold.”
The music aspect is a big element of the story, and I love Emery's way of exposing it. Both Dee and Matt are singers, though Reagan is not, and they write songs together. In addition to Dee's 'Open Road Summer', there's also 'Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee', Matt's 'Human', 'Yet', and 'Give'... The fictional lyrics that Emery created were lovely! I love imagining how they would actually sounds as real songs. Aside from the tour, the 'celebrity-ness' side of the story also included music award, soundchecks, interviews, tabloid gossips, backstage hustles, and the loss of freedom and privacy that every 'star' experienced. The whole 'build' is convincing.
The story flows seamlessly. I continued to be amazed as the pages went on, as every chapter just got better and better than the previous ones. Emery Lord has a way of choosing the right words; her gorgeous song lyrics-like writings are sometimes exxagerated but could evoke some magical feelings nonetheless. Most of the chapters ended with such beautiful passages of words that are enough to make me stop, smiling and absorbing the words for a while before continuing to the next chapter. The change in Reagan as she is maneuvering to a 'new' version, better version of herself continues to happen as we read the book, and it's such a lovely journey to follow. Open Road Summer has an appropriate mix of cuteness, lovey-dovey, angst, and 'realness' to make up an excellent story, so I will totally recommend this book to you who want to read a fresh, enthralling YA. And this is just a debut! GAH. I cannot wait to read other books by the author. Good job, Emery Lord, you nailed it! :)
“If we could capture feelings like we capture pictures, none of us would ever leave our rooms. It would be so tempting to inhabit the good moments over and over again. But I don't want to be the kind of person who lives backwardly, who memorializes moments before she's finished living in them. So I plant my feet here on this hillside beside a boy who is undoing me, and I kiss him back like I mean it. And, God help me, with the sky wrapped around us in every direction, I do mean it.”
Read other reviews of Open Road Summer by: Jamie, from The Perpetual Page Turner | Hannah, from So Obsessed With | Sara, from Forever 17 Books
What are you currently reading right now? Have read Open Road Summer? Any book recommendation that you want to share?
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