Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?
It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?
Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.
I wasn’t surprised when I heard some mixed reactions about this book before starting it. Because it would be difficult to attain the perfection that The Start of Me and You did for me. And my excitement for this book was more to do with my wish of revisiting this universe and the group of characters who I came to love.
And ironically, it was the characterization that was one of my main problems with this book. One of my favorite things about the first book was how every character got the chance to shine. But I felt that we don’t get that enough here. For example, I’d been rooting for Paige’s bestie Tessa and Max’s cousin Ryan, because of their flirty equation and Ryan’s obvious interest in her, in the last book. I mean, a main part of that book was how Paige and Max were like Jane and Bingley, while Tessa and Ryan were like Elizabeth and Darcy.
But we find out at the very beginning that Tessa got herself a girlfriend over the Summer. I didn’t know whether to be happy that this was introduced so naturally and not made a big deal of (a big yay for LGBT); or be disappointed that we didn’t get more details about how a character who gave no signs of being homosexual in the first book, just suddenly went through such an important transformation over a span of 2 months and we didn’t get to be a party to this character development.
Speaking of Ryan, a character who we got to see have some major moments in the first book, doesn’t have that big of a role to play. I also felt that we didn’t get enough of Morgan and Kayleigh here. There is a part where Morgan drops a big bomb on Tessa about herself drunkenly, and that’s it. There’s no more discussion on it,
Almost everything takes a backseat in this book to Paige. We spend half the book on Paige overthinking every little thing. While I found that endearing in the first book, this time the author just took it too far. Yes, she’s a teenager. She’s right to be flawed and be indecisive and self-involved. But we already saw her doing this in the previous book and overcome it to a large extent. And when we see her doing the same things again, and regressing on her own, what was all that character growth from the first book for?
It also didn’t help that a whole lot of the plot is reliant on Tessa’s overthinking. She has decided over the Summer that she wants to study script-writing in New York or LA. She’s worried that this will cause friction between her divorced and currently dating parents. She’s worried about how it will impact her relationship with Max. Then when Max tells her he’s also applying to the same areas, she’s worried of the pressure it puts on her. And all that’s fine and realistic. But the main conflict was stretched too thin and at one point, the charm was lost.
For all my complaining, I still loved the friendship between Paige, Tessa, Kayleigh, Morgan and Ryan. Paige and Max were really cute initially (when they weren’t being stupid). Their relationship was also realistic. I loved Paige’s family again too. And I’d have been happier had the ending been satisfactory. But that ending was abrupt with one major plot point still being unresolved.