Contemporary Young Adult
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.
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.
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.