When We Collided by Emery Lord

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along. Vivi didn't know Jonah would light up her world. Neither of them expected a summer like this...a summer that would rewrite their futures. 

In this unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever (from Goodreads).


Contemporary YA fiction is always a bit of a hit-and-miss for me. Since I'm in my twenties now, sometimes I just feel disconnected with the voices of the teenage characters. I still remember my angst-ridden teenage years, and remember the problems I faced growing up, but sometimes it still just feels like I've moved on from those issues. It's more empathy than sympathy these days. 

When We Collided is different though. The problems our main characters, Jonah and Vivi, face are universal. Their age has absolutely no bearing on what they're dealing with, as their problems are big and anyone of any age could face them. Jonah is trying to adjust to normal life again after his dad passed away unexpectedly six months ago and he's trying to keep his family together. His mum is struggling to cope now, having spent twenty-something years building a life with a man who was ripped suddenly from her life, and has developed a sort of depression. Jonah's life has become that of a carer, looking out for his family as they all try to hold themselves together. His summer has been weighed down with responsibility. Then he meets Vivi. 

Vivi is our other main character. She is spending the summer in Verona Cove, a charming town near the sea, as she and her mother try to find a way to make their peace with what happened in Seattle a few months ago. As the story progresses, we learn that Vivi used to self-harm, used to be wild. She is still living her life to the full, but she is meant to be more stable now. Less manic. That is, if she was taking her bipolar medication. 

The struggles the two of them face, the need for understanding of who they are, what has happened to them, of a need for control in their lives is something I can completely understand. For Vivi, she just wants to be happy, life as she wants to life. She doesn't want to depend on medication to feel like she's herself. Jonah is trying to find a way to make his peace with what happened, to get his family back on track.

Their relationship feels real, and it grows at a pace that feels natural. True, it moves quickly; but Vivi is throwing herself into it, as that's her personality and her condition all rolled up into one, and for Jonah this is his escape from his everyday life. This beautiful girl has come into his life when he is low and makes him feel part of the world again. It's very easy to fall in love. 

I really enjoyed this book, and I'm so glad I've finally found a book that got bipolar and depression right. There's so many different forms of depression in this book, and it's wonderful to finally have something that showcases them. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Emery Lord books from now on. 

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