Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: Open Road Summer

OPEN ROAD SUMMER
Emery Lord
Contemporary Young Adult
342 pages
Walker Children's/Bloomsbury
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.

MY THOUGHTS
Open Road Summer is a YA contemporary romance gem, putting on page characters who feel so real it seems as though if we were to reach out and run our fingers across the ink we’d find flesh instead. There’s drama and conflict to be sure, but none of it has the fabricated, over the top feel that reminds us we’re reading fiction, instead we’re given a glimpse at lives that are simultaneously similar and startlingly different from our own. Dee’s world is one of stardom and screaming fans, but with Reagan as our narrator we’re fully behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight, and in the darkness of backstage there is laughter, friendship, heartbreak and tears the limelight simply isn’t privy to.

Reagan is an extraordinarily interesting young woman in terms of the feelings she inspires, the girl she describes prior to the incident that landed her with a broken arm someone very difficult to like for her seemingly callous disregard for both herself and those around her. Old Regan (as she calls her pre-broken arm self) drank, cheated on boyfriends, and made poor decisions at every turn simply because she could, and if not for her dedication to studying hard in school and her unwavering loyalty to Dee we might not have found much of anything in Old Reagan to like. The Reagan we meet in the beginning of the story isn’t an entirely new person however, her somewhat inflated sense of self and the way she constantly draws attention to her looks aspects of her personality that try our patience, but the fact that we’re witnessing her mid-transformation makes this story all the more appealing.

Reagan’s growth is slow but sure, her road a rocky one that only smooths out after it’s been repeatedly walked, and as such we watch as Reagan stumbles along the way, making mistakes and learning from them in the most stunningly satisfying way possible. Her friendship and utter dedication to Dee are things of beauty, absent even an inkling of jealousy or resentment over her best friend’s success. Instead the two of them are simply young women learning life’s lessons the hard way, and finding in the other an immovable pillar of support when their own strength escapes them. Reagan’s friendship with Dee and her relationship with Matt are key elements to this story but they’re not the focus, rather they’re catalysts for the changes we see in Reagan as the summer progresses.

Overall, Open Road Summer is an absolute pleasure to read, the only small thing keeping it from a perfect rating being Reagan’s aforementioned high opinion of her own attractiveness, but about midway through the book the repeated emphasis on the way she looks starts to wane, allowing all her positive qualities (which are numerous) to really shine through. Ms. Lord splashes the pages of this book with the effervescent joy of young love and friendship while enriching both with the emotional turbulence that accompanies growing up, combining the various pieces into a striking whole that will be remembered long after the last page is turned.

Rating: 4.5/5



Find Emery:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

50 comments:

  1. Oh I absolutely LOVED this book too! It was so cute and wonderful and romantic! My main complain (even though tiny) was the end, the way she refused to believe and hear everyone out. It was a little over the top and too much, but then at the end .. all was good :)
    I didn't realize until you mentioned it that it also irked me a little that she was constantly referring to her looks..

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    1. She just mentioned it a few times too many for me in the beginning, but that's a super mild complaint and adored this one overall:):)

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  2. Gorgeous review Jenny, I so need to read this one for sure this summer. I just know I will love it!

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    1. Thanks Ali, I can't wait to see what you think of it!

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  3. Wow, I hadn't heard about this one. It sounds exactly like the kind of book I would love. I need to grab it ASAP.

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  4. I guess I am just not YA enough for someone to send me requests, so I need to go to the library

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    1. I can't recommend this one enough!

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  5. Beautiful review Jenny. Will add this one to my TBR since it looks something that I will really enjoy. Looks perfect read this summer!

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    1. Definitely a perfect read for the summer. Or when you're having a bad day and just need a really great read:)

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  6. I absolutely LOVED this book. Definitely a new favourite of mine. It took me a while to warm to Reagan but after a while I really just GOT her and I liked her a lot. I want more books like this for my summer reading! :)

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    1. YAY LEANNA! So glad you loved it too! It took me a few chapters to connect to Reagan as well, but I loved her after that short while!

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  7. I am so glad you liked this book! I just bought it when I heard from Leanna that it was my kind of summer read. It seems like it might take awhile to warm up to Reagan, but it will be worth it in the end. I can't wait to read this one…sounds perfect for the beach! Great review, Jenny!

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    1. I think you'll really enjoy this one Christina! I hope you get a chance to read it this summer:)

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  8. I've heard such good things about this story! I can imagine that hearing about how pretty this girl thinks she is would get old but that it pales in comparison to the story itself. Plus, yay for a strong friendship!

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    1. Exactly. It was a nitpicky thing to notice but I couldn't help it. Otherwise the story was absolutely fantastic:)

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  9. I'm so happy to hear you loved this as much as I did, Jenny. It was such a great book about a character growing. I agree that the Old Reagan wasn't the most likeable character but I enjoyed the process of maturation she went through. I agree about the constant remarks about her good looks. I think what really kept me rooting for her was undoubtedly her friendship with Dee. Those two were so adorable for words. And of course, Matt! <3 Although I have to admit that the songs he wrote were too cheesy.
    I've been begging the author for a Dee story. Didn't you want to find out more about her and that boy?
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. YES NICK! I definitely would like a Dee story, there's so much history between her and the boy (whose name escapes me) and I want to know all the little details!

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  10. I've heard many good things about this book... and now you have me wanting to pick it up too. *shakes fist* So. Many. Books.

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    1. *sigh* It's hard being a book lover. So much good stuff to choose from!

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  11. Well, now that I've professed my love for contemporary on my blog, I suppose a book like this shouldn't make me too nervous anymore! It sounds like it's got some really strong character development, and Matt sounds like a gem. Love the review, girl!

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    1. You must read this Melissa! I think you'll love it:)

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  12. Sending this one to my friend Wendy. She will adore it!

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  13. I am even more excited to read this book now, Jenny. Beautiful review.
    I love books with strong characters and friendship, and this looks like a perfect pick for my lazy weekend afternoons. :)

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    1. Thanks Glass! It's definitely and ideal weekend read, you'll blow right through it:) I loved it!

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  14. I keep seeing how much everyone seems to love this one on Twitter so I'm really glad you loved this one too, Jenny, since it's in my TBR pile. I love that the focus on this one is friendship and personal change with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure :)

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    1. The friendship between Reagan and Dee was a real highlight. There was no jealousy at all, and they were just there to provide whatever the other needed from them. So good!

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  15. LOL, Reagan loves herself. This sounds like the perfect summer read from the friendships to the fleshed out characters. I am so glad you loved this Jenny!

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    1. She definitely is well aware she's pretty:) Aside from that though, she was fabulous and I recommend this book wholeheartedly!

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  16. I never heard of this one before, Jenny, but it definitely seems like one that I would enjoy. I'm adding it to my tbr pile now. :)

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    1. YAY! Glad I could put it on your radar Rummanah!

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  17. oh it's the second great review I read about this book today. I didn't know it but it sounds great and you both make me want to discover Reagan, she sounds so interesting! I'm glad you hd a good time with it. Happy reading!

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    1. I hope you give it a try Melliane! I just loved it:)

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  18. I recently acquired a review copy of this one because I am reading such great reviews. I think this sounds like a brilliant coming of age story and I will be patient withe MC's vanity. Thanks again for helping me with today's TMST! You are the best!

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    1. THANK YOU!!!! I'm so grateful to have such support from friends like you:)

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  19. Lovely review, Jenny! I adored the strength of the friendships in this novel and the romance was soo cute! :)

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad you loved it too Keertana. I can't wait to read more from Emery:)

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  20. This review is one that makes me ensure I will read this book! I love the idea of a female friendship being so important for the story... I always think they usually aren't important enough in most books!
    Great review, Jenny! I know I must get this one for sure!

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    1. Yes! Female friendships are often so catty and full of jealousy, so it was nice to see Dee and Reagan be so supportive of one another:)

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  21. A near perfect read! What more can you ask for, right? Great review!

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    1. Exactly! This one was a winner:)

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  22. I just got this yesterday! I'm so excited to read it. And I'm looking forward to meeting Reagan.

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    1. YAY! I'll be looking for your review Christy!

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  23. Wow it's rare to see such a high rating from you on a contemporary romance! I definitely want to check this one out.

    How have you been, Jenny? Hooray for spring finally appearing.

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  24. Sometimes I really like YA contemporaries . . . and sometimes I really do not. It's either hit or miss for me with these kinds of books, and Jenny, I have to say, this sounds like a HIT. Great review ;)

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

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  25. Yay! I'm SO happy to hear you loved this one Jenny! I have a copy and I can't wait to read it now. It sounds like Reagan's does a lot of growing in this story, and I love that she has a strong friendship that is absent jealousy (a rarity in fictional female friendships). I'm really looking forward to diving into this one. Lovely review!

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  26. It's refreshing to have a story where best friends are actually good to each other. I hate it when the best friend steals the boyfriend in stories and it's a troupe often used. Wonderful review, Jenny! :)

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  27. Just from your review I know that this is going to be a great read! Not only is the cover gorgeous but it sounds amazing.

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  28. A wonderful review Jenny. I haven't seen this one before now but it does sound like a book I would enjoy. Adding it to my tbr pile.

    Thank you for sharing :)

    Sharon - Obsession with Books

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