Open Road Summer: Review

April 30, 2014 2014, 4.5 star books, contemporary, emery lord, Kate 36 ★★★★½

Open Road Summer: ReviewOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published by Walker Books on April 15, 2014
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
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.

When Crossroads came out, I was in high school, and I saw it with my friends opening night. I knew I would hate it. I knew it would be terrible. I was right. But I LOVE stories about teenage friendships. The friendships are my favorite part of any coming-of-age story. Something that adults frequently get wrong when writing about teenage romance is that in real life, girls’ friends are significantly more important to them than their romantic partners. Once you get older and start thinking about marriage and maybe starting a family, suddenly the person you date/marry/whatever becomes the center of your life, but in most healthy teenage relationships (those without co-dependency issues) this isn’t actually the case. Teenage girls rely on their female friends for most of their emotional needs.

The friendship between Reagan and Dee is the backbone of this story, and they fit together like one of those puzzles you could easily assemble even if all the pieces were turned upside down. Both girls are nursing broken hearts–Dee and her long-term boyfriend recently broke up because she was becoming a famous country singer, and he couldn’t handle all the public scrutiny; Reagan just dumped a drug addict who hit her–and each has her own way of mourning her recent loss.

Reagan is just kind of infinitely relatable. The unearned loathing she feels for her stepmother made me groan with embarrassment at how I treated my own stepparents (I’ve had four), and the way she threw herself into a scary, unhealthy lifestyle, including dating an abusive druggie, rings so true to how things can snowball out of control once a teenager starts to feel desperate and doesn’t have the right kind of support at home. Reagan has quit smoking, but she still craves cigarettes when she gets stressed (the way things like smoking and underage drinking are handled in this book is pretty great), and her non-smoking friends are really grossed out by it. She is understandably reticent to jump into a relationship with Matt after the terrible experience she had with her ex, and she is smart enough to move slowly with him while she figures herself out.

And Matt. SIGH, Matt. He’s so persistent in his pursuit of Reagan, but not in that pushy, awkward way. He gives her space when she requests it, and he is charmed and amused by her skittishness. I freaking love Matt. I wish I hadn’t had to read quite so many of his song lyrics, because original songs in books make me anxious, but he’s such a lovely boy.

Dee’s feelings toward her ex have a bit of an Adam and Mia in Where She Went vibe. She doesn’t blame him for breaking up with her, but they had one of those rare young love situations where they were actually kind of partners the way you are with your significant others as an adult (BTW, a 30-year-old friend of mine is married to a dude she started dating seriously when she was thirteen; these people are freaks of nature), so she is in a very specific type of bone-deep emotional pain. Over the course of the tour she, with the help of Reagan, grows and begins to learn who she is on her own, outside that relationship.

The only thing that really bothered me about this book was the lack of diversity. That was a real bummer. I would have liked for at least one significant character to be some sort of minority. Oh, and as I said above, I’m not generally a fan of song lyrics in books. They make me nervous. This book has a lot of songs in it.

Open Road Summer is like a crisp mojito on a summer day; I want twelve of them and I want them NOW. Why is this a debut novel? Why can’t I fall down the rabbit hole of hunting for everything Emery Lord has ever written? I’ll have to settle for re-reading this on a beach this June–maybe with a mojito.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.











36 Responses to “Open Road Summer: Review”

  1. Mara

    looks good! Hopefully this will be a good romantic, quick summer read! All the positive reviews are making me excited!

  2. Amanda S

    This sounds like a cute and fun read! Definitely something I’d like to give a try. *adds to goodreads shelf with 100 other books*

  3. Sashana

    I hope to pick up a copy of this book during the summer. I haven’t seen a negative review since its publication! I did have the opportunity to read the first few pages on Amazon and the famous musician sounds a lot like Taylor Swift in her early days.

  4. Holly J

    I’ll definitely make sure to pick it up! You make it sound like such a perfect summer read :)

  5. Vivien

    I’m notoriously behind this year. I’ve been in such a slump! Anyways, this is most certainly on my tbr list. I even have a copy staring at me, just begging to be read. No matter, I’ll get to it soon! So glad you loved this one. Really. I’ve read quite a few mixed reviews for this, so it’s refreshing to read positive remarks. Contemporary doesn’t always work for everyone but I just seem to love it. Maybe it’s also because I’m getting older so I’m able to understand relationships better. Either way, like Wendy said, you uttered the magic words. Rose Hathaway ;)

  6. jpetroroy

    I adored this book. The friendship between Dee and Reagan was so well-portrayed.

  7. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Oh, I totally love books that deal with teenage friendships! I mean, romance is awesome, but in a lot of books it ends with breakup, and gah, that is kind of depressing, you know?? Especially when the MC usually pushes her friends away. I really really LOVE books that deal with friendships as WELL as relationships. Awesome review, I’m sold. ;)
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Should you write consistently or in bulk?

  8. Rachel Spring

    Wow, this sounds like the PERFECT summer read for me! I may even start it now since it has started to warm up here a bit. I love what you said about friends – it is so true about how important girl friends are to each other in the teen years. And I love that Reagan is a relatable character. That’s not always easy to find in YA books. The characters tend to either be perfect or so flawed that they’re just a total mess or an idiot. I also tend to find the love interests in YA contemps totally irritating or unrealistic, so Matt sounds amazing. Great review! You made me want to pick this one up even sooner!

  9. chelsea

    “Open Road Summer is like a crisp mojito on a summer day.” Well, if I wasn’t already going to read this one, I DEFINITELY am now!

  10. Bethzaida (bookittyblog)

    I’m not a fan of contemporary novels but this one sound really really good. Maybe the mojito comparison is what’s making me want to read Open Road Summer. I need some kind of strong beverage right about now. Just kidding. The book does sound amazing!
    Bethzaida (bookittyblog) recently posted…Pic2Book Wednesday Challenge #97

  11. Larissa

    This one seems to be doing quite well in the blogging world, I haven’t heard a bad word about it which is not only super excites me but also makes me the tiniest bit worried haha (: Still, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! The big thing about this book appears to be the great way the friendship is represented and displayed throughout. It just makes the story seems so much more realistic, and it’s definitely totally true with what you said about teens being emotionally closer with their friends than their boyfriends/girlfriends/whatever. Haha, as a seventeen year old girl I can totally agree that I’ve always felt more emotionally close with my best friend than any boy.

    The romance and characters in this one also seem spot on c: Lovely review! I can’t wait to give this one a try and see what I think of it myself (:
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

  12. Pili

    Aaaand there we go, another awesome review for this book, telling me how important the friendship between the two girls is, and how it is about them growing up and healing from their break-ups… I need to read this book, like now! I’m kinda curious now about the song lyrics, cause yours is the first review I’ve read that mention them.
    Great review, Kate!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #40!!

  13. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    What a lovely review! And while I rarely read contemporary YA (as opposed to YA fantasy or historical fiction), you’re tempting me with this one. But I do want to say that not all girls have the strong friendships with other girls that you describe. In my case, while I had some very good female friends during high school, my closest high school friends were boys. Partly that’s because I was a geeky SFF fan in an era when there weren’t that many people into either, and most of the other kids reading SFF and watching SF tv and movies were boys.
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…It’s Time for the CLEAN SWEEP ARC CHALLENGE!

  14. Tirta @ I Prefer Reading

    I loooove this book so much! I’m glad the author doesn’t make it a cheesy love triangle drama between Dee, Reagan, and Matt. Their friendship is such a beautiful thing to read (and Dee somehow reminds me a lot of that Taylor Swift girl…) The song lyrics did not make me nervous, I even waht to know how they would sound as real songs :)
    Lovely review, Kate!
    Tirta @ I Prefer Reading recently posted…Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

  15. Wendy Darling

    You told me the magic words: Reagan is sort of like Rose Hathaway, which means she is going to be my FAVORITE THING. Can’t wait to read this! I love it already!

  16. A Canadian Girl

    This book has received so much praise so I’m looking forward to seeing if it lives up to the hype. I’m not terribly crazy about books with song lyric or poems – mainly because I can’t tell whether they’re any good or not – but I plan on reading this one because of the strong friendship. Also, Matt sounds adorable!
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

  17. Kate @ Ex Libris

    I liked that Reagan really put Dee’s friendship first, even when there was a boy in the picture. I really got the sense that each girl valued the other. I also loved the imperfect, but loving family. I really appreciate books that present families that don’t fall into the two perfect parent “ideal” that I still see in YA a lot. Reagan’s family is also made up of Dee and Dee’s family, which I think is very realistic considering how close they are.
    Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted…Wish You Were Italian By Kristin Rae

  18. Janice

    I’ve been reading such good reviews about this book that it’s already on my list. The promise of a strong female friendship in Reagan and Lilah’s relationship drew me in. Love all these posts on the blog about books featuring strong female friendships!
    Janice recently posted…Adult Fail