When We Collided by Emery Lord

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When We Collided by Emery Lord

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely love story. Bipolar disorder and depression are integral to the path this lovely love story takes but they don't entirely define it. Nor should they.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408870088

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Jonah's father died. His mother has locked herself away in grief, leaving Jonah and his two older siblings to not only run their own lives but also take care of their three younger siblings. It's a lot and Jonah is grieving, too. Unsurprisingly, he has fallen into the fog of depression. And then Vivi comes along. Vivi and her artist mother are spending the summer in Jonah's town. And Vivi is bright and beautiful and vivid and amazing and ever-so-slightly eccentric. She bursts into Jonah's life like a shower of meteors and changes everything. But Vivi has her own problems...

... told from both Jonah's and Vivi's points of view in an alternating chapter structure, Emery Lord traces their burgeoning love affair and personal trials through a summer that they will remember for as long as they live.

Oh! I did love this story.

Before I gush. It's not perfect. Vivi, who spends much of the book building up to or in a manic phase of her bipolar disorder, is as dazzling 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 to the detriment of Jonah's sections. Lord has 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 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. This may not be what Lord really wanted but I think it's a positive and not a negative: an illumination and a conversation-starter at the very least.

But there's so much to enjoy. Vivi being Vivi, she has launched into a love affair before Jonah has even managed to register much more than that she is beautiful. 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 life and into the impulsive, colourful world she inhabits. Seen through the eyes of both boy and girl, Lord captures the overwhelming nature of first love perfectly. And it's no pity party. Lord doesn't duck Vivi's self-absorption and how her erratic behaviour impacts negatively on both herself and those around her. Neither does she miss that keeping family problems secret, as Jonah does, can act to prolong the problem and delay recovery.

I loved both central characters. Vivi is original and exciting and creative. Jonah is kind and thoughtful and steady. But the cast of supporting characters is wonderful, too, each a fully-formed person in their own right and each with their own baggage to carry. I believed in them all.

At its heart, When We Collided is a lovely love story. Bipolar disorder and depression are integral to the path this lovely love story takes but they don't entirely define it. Nor should they.

The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson talks about a parent with bipolar disorder and is from the perspective of the younger, rather than the older, of two siblings. Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson is a fabulous and clear-sighted guide to mental health - and ill health - from Juno Dawson with input from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. Kids should read this. So should their parents.

Buy When We Collided by Emery Lord at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When We Collided by Emery Lord at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy When We Collided by Emery Lord at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When We Collided by Emery Lord at Amazon.com.


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