Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published Walker 2014
Format: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardback from the library
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.
This book is sharp and poignant, with a main character that sticks out and a romance that sparkles right off the page.
Reagan is our main character – and while others have had plenty of problems with her – I really liked her character. There is plenty of discussion about the supposed slut shaming in this book, and while I kept a watchful eye out for it, I could find only a few instances. There are a few times when Reagan jumps to quick conclusions about people she sees with Matt, but that’s what people do. In relationships, there is going to be some jealousy and asking an author to portray that any differently in a book feels like cheating. Authors are supposed to write books that sound and feel like real life, not idealized versions of that. She is a sharp character with a somewhat troublesome past, but that gave her so many layers. She wasn’t the typical young adult romance lead and I loved that.
What really makes this book a winner is the friendship between Reagan and Lilah.
In a genre where friendships are a rarity, this one is truly unique. Lilah’s country stardom makes her different and Reagan gets that – but she also gets that her friend really has not changed much (you know, other than having her face on a tour bus). I loved how Lilah’s fame did not get in the way of their friendship. They still had little traditions they had done forever, and both were willing to risk for each other. I loved the give-take between the two. It was an equally balanced friendship that read just like some I have experienced in real life.
In the end, the only thing I missed from this book was more.
This book would have really done good from some length and a little more detail. Contemporaries are supposed to be hundreds of pages long, but I would have liked to see their relationship develop a little bit more before moving on. Matt and Reagan become really close by the end, but there are some obstacles that are not resolved until the very last pages. It’s a contemporary romance pet peeve of mine, but I hate when they end like that.
Overall, this book is a formidable debut novel. I can’t wait for more of Emery Lord! Reagan is different, so if you go in expecting that, Open Road Summer is a delightful read.