Vivi is spending the summer at the California beach town of Verona Cove. She’s there only a week and she’s in love with everything about it. And when she goes to work one day and sees a cute boy sitting outside the place she works, well, it’s about to get even more perfect.Jonah has always lived in Verona Cove, just as his parents did. Everyone knows him, and his parents, and his siblings. And his dad’s restaurant.
And that his dad died of a heart attack six months ago, shattering everything.Vivi knows none of this; she doesn’t look at him with pity.And Jonah doesn’t know Vivi’s secrets, and she’s glad about that, so she won’t push him with questions.Jonah and Vivi meet; and the collision shakes them both up, shaking secrets free.Before I gush and groan and moan over one of my truly favorite books, it’s not perfect. Vivi, spends much of the book building up to or in a manic phase of her bipolar disorder which leads to some bizarre behavior (but, no spoilers), is as dazzling and charming to the reader as she is to Jonah. And this means that the dual narrative structure suffers a little because so much of your attention is focused on her than the sections Jonah gets to express his thoughts and feelings.
When meeting with Emery Lord, she said that she wanted to write a love story in which mental ill health played a part but was not the focus. I think she got as close as anybody could to achieving this without causing triggering emotions and thoughts, but I also think that for most readers, the takeaway will be all about mental ill health and how it affects the loving relationships all teenagers are looking for, even myself. This may not be what Lord really wanted to do per say but I think it’s a positive and not a negative: an illumination and a conversation-starter at the very least.Even though it is a controversial topic, there’s so much to enjoy that isn’t necessarily glorifying depression but showing readers that it is okay to be depressed and that someone does and will love you even if you are not okay. Vivi being Vivi, she has launched into a love affair, something shown in relationships pertaining mental illness because they just want to feel safe and loved, before Jonah has even managed to register much more than that she is beautiful, exotic, and mysterious. There’s no build-up of attraction – it’s a tornado of first love and it’s a beautiful and engaging whirlwind to read as Vivi drags Jonah out of his interior homebody, sheltered in a way lifestyle and into the impulsive, colorful, exuberant world she inhabits. Seen through the eyes of both Jonah and Vivi, Lord perfectly captures the overwhelming nature of first love perfectly.
And it’s no pity party. Lord doesn’t shield or censor Vivi’s self-absorption and how her unstable mind makes her behavior impact negatively on both herself and those around her. At its heart, When We Collided is a compassionate story. Bipolar disorder and depression pave the path this story takes but they don’t entirely define it.
Jonah and Vivi don’t belong together. Nor should they. They enhance and complete each other, like a perfect puzzle and they help each other find themselves; and they fall in love.?Most of the things that caught my eye is how perfectly Emery Lord portrayed this fictional teenage relationship. Jonah and Vivi are completely different people that have completely different personalities and it’s no surprise that their opposite views and ways of life sometimes caused friction. At it’s best, it was “oh I love her bubbliness, I love his contentment with life,” but at other times, much like nonfictional teenage relationships, the honeymoon phase ends, the light burns out, and they became annoyed or frustrated with each other.
Sometimes, Jonah needed to realize he was wrong; and sometimes Vivi needed to be reminded that it’ okay to not be okay. But other times, it’s just their very different personalities. Neither is wrong for being themselves, both are true to who they are. Often times I thought, these two are not going to stay together. And they shouldn’t.?And finally — the last thing I loved about this book.
Emery Lord wrote a love story about two teens who are perfect for each other at this point in time — not forever. I recommend this book for anyone who feels like forever isn’t always forever but it is in that moment (which I’m truly guilty of).