Hello dear readers! We’re always excited to bring you new posts, but today we’re extra excited because it’s our first official book club “meeting,” even if it is virtual and we’re doing most of the talking. As you might know from our post last week, this month’s Rosie & Bean Book Club pick is Emery Lord’s newest release, When We Collided. Rosie finished it in one night, but Bean is still reading, so we decided to review the first half this week, and next week we’ll have a couple more posts to wrap it up. Turns out we have so much to say about this gem that we need more than one day to do it. HINT: that means you should definitely pick up a copy. It’s a good one, promise 🙂
In case you haven’t had a chance to start yet, When We Collided is about two teenagers, Vivi and Jonah, who meet, fall in love, and spend a summer together. But it’s also so, so much more than that. Vivi has bipolar disorder and depression; Jonah recently lost his dad and is learning how to cope and be there for his family at the same time. Their almost-instant sparks for each other turn quickly to love, but not a typical, teenage summer love–a love that feels real, that has depth, and that’s complicated. Vivi and Jonah’s relationship brings out both the best and worst in each other, but mostly the best, and so far it’s a pleasure to watch it unfold.
We’ve broken our thoughts down into categories in conversation form, so we’re not just book vomiting all over the place (you’re welcome), and so it’s got that real book club-like vibe. Today we’re going to dive into the characters of Vivi and Jonah, and then of course a few of our thoughts about going forward. If you’re reading along with us, let us know!! Comment your thoughts, favorite lines, or disagreements with us below. This is a book CLUB after all, and a two-person club is just sad. So join us!
Rosie: Hi! Hi! Hi! What do you think so far?
Bean: Ok, soooo I have to be honest: Vivi is a lot to handle sometimes haha
Rosie: How do you think Jonah feels? 😉
Bean: I know she’s trying to portray her in the “high” of a manic swing for bipolar, but I think sometimes she comes across cartoonish, at least in her dialogue. I guess what I mean is that sometimes you feel as though this girl with red lips and bleach blonde hair is standing in front of you, yelling and laughing and touching you and it almost feels like she’s overwhelming YOU, the reader, personally. Then again, I guess that just means that Emery is doing her job and doing it really well.
Rosie: Yeah! Like maybe the point isn’t for her to be the most relatable or likable human in the world, because who really is the most likable human in the world? Like, Taylor swift maybe. Instead, it was like Emery really valued writing Vivi as real instead of just perfect.
Bean: Yes! You can tell that was her goal once you get past the in-your-face-ness of Vivi, and I like that a lot. I think the honest portrayal of her just as a real, flawed teenage girl and also as someone with mental health issues is important. And even though she overwhelms me, I still like that she is overwhelming because I’m sure that’s very often how people who live with bipolar disorder feel and/or act. I think it’s important to show that she isn’t hampered by it at all times. She isn’t happy at all times. She struggles. Sometimes she talks too fast. Sometimes she lives too fast. But her thoughts can also be beautiful and kind, and that’s what draws us and, I imagine, Jonah to her.
Rosie: I totally agree! I actually found myself inspired by Vivi’s sort of I-don’t-care-what-anyone-else-thinks-of-me attitude. It made me want to buy red lipstick (and a vespa) and scoot around town with wings flapping. I think it’s very cool that even though she has this diagnosis and even though some things are harder for her, she doesn’t let it decrease the value of her life. I love when, at her birthday, she says, “I don’t even want to try to stop myself from feeling everything, from reacting the way I really feel, because I am only turning seventeen once, and I am honestly trying to live this life while I can.” I just love the idea of living your life the best way you can, and nothing–not even a diagnosis–has to change that. And unrelated to the book, I love that Emery herself is vocal about this on Twitter. Girl can def rest easy at night knowing that she–and her books–are encouraging so many people to openly and honestly discuss mental illness. Vivi makes me want to embrace life for who I am in this very moment.
Bean: That’s a good point! She does have kind of an inspiring Carpe Diem thing going on, even though I sense while that’s her strength it’s also going to be her downfall maybe?? THOUGH NO SPOILERS YET PLEASE! Vivi is cool, but I have to be honest, Jonah has my love….
Rosie: hahaha. Jonah’s cooking creations have my love. 😉
Bean: Ok, I’ll just get right to it: I freaking LOVE Jonah. I will go so far as to say that, in my humble opinion, Jonah makes this book as awesome as it is. I’m obsessed with him. Did you get the fact that I love him yet? No? Ok I love him.
Rosie: Hey, you get Real Life Tyler! Which means I get Fictional Jonah 😉
Bean: He just brings humanity and reality and also quietness to a book whose other main character is larger than life. I think his point of view chapters are EXCELLENTLY written, not to mention that Emery’s metaphors, often written through his point of view, are just absolute GOLD. (But we’ll get to that more later…)
Rosie: I am so with you here. Going into this book I didn’t realize it was told from a dual point-of-view and when I got to Jonah’s first chapter I almost groaned. There are few dual POV books I really and truly love, and it’s because I so often find the boy characters tend to think about sex and their love for the word ‘dude’ and literally nothing else. I mean, I’m not a boy, but I think there’s a little more going on than just that, dude. Jonah and Vivi have two distinct voices that felt really natural to read. Their perspectives never felt forced and I never lost track of whose chapter I was reading (which always happens to me in dual POV books). Cudos to you, Emery Lord.
Bean: I think if it were any other male, 17 year old character, I would say his dialogue/thoughts were unrealistic. Almost too introspective for a teenage boy. But Emery writes him with such depth that he just feels totally real and 100% believable. Honestly, I like Vivi more because of him and the way he loves her. His descriptions of her and how she makes him feel characterize both him and her deeply and in a beautiful way. To give a favorite example of mine, he says “My mind has been like a cement mixer for the past three days. If I stop thinking about Vivi for too long, my life might harden into the gray slab it’s been for six months.” Like, how PERFECT and beautiful and flawless is that? Like I said, instead of being an unrealistic thought for a 17 year old, Emery makes it just believable and palpable that he is this kind, sensitive, responsible person who has grown up from feeling loss so early in life. Rare, definitely, but also definitely real. To me, at least!
Rosie: Yes! The grief he’s experiencing combined with the responsibility he feels to take care of his siblings makes it completely realistic that he would have such introspective thoughts. I loved how much he loved Vivi. I never felt like he loved her in spite of her wild ways; he just loved her. Full stop. I am so sick of reading books about girls that need to be saved, so it made me so happy that Jonah never tried to save Vivi. Sure, he was there for her and loved her and made her freaking cherry pie, but he never donned a cape and acted like he could cure all. In fact, I don’t think Jonah even thought Vivi needs to be saved. Which is so. cool. Can we pretty please have more books that showcase that mental illness does not equate weakness. Vivi was STRONG AS HELL (thank you Kimmy Shcmidt) and fought furiously to enjoy her days, and Jonah respected that. And so for that, I respect Jonah.
Bean: And beyond his treatment of Vivi, the way he cares for his family humanizes him even further. I think Vivi might have a little competition because I’m kind of in love with him, too. Oops did I just say that on the internet? 😉
Rosie: I mean, I’d definitely tune into a MMA fight featuring you and Vivi. Would Ellie be the judge? Referee? What’s it called in boxing anyway? (Is MMA even boxing…?)
Bean: As an indication of my excitement to know the ending, I have secretly been reading the whole time we’ve been chatting…
Rosie: Since I’ve already read the ending, I’m so excited for you to finish so we can further our discussion to things like cherry pie and painted ceiling edges.
Bean: I’m anxious (in a good way) to know what happens with Vivi and her journey with (or without) medicine.. I can sense something big is coming and it’s stressing me out to not know if it’s good or bad! So with that, I’m going to hibernate in my bed until I know Viv and Jonah’s fate! See you on the flip side.
Rosie: Text me when…well, you’ll know when!
Bean: PS next time let’s be sure to discuss Emery’s writing style so I can word vomit about my favorite lines and metaphors that are practically poetry. Ok thanks bye!
Rosie: I love so many lines that I think to post them all would actually be considered piracy…like, def it’s illegal to post a whole book, right? 😉
We’ll be back on Monday night with some more Book Club chatting. In the meantime, let us know your When We Collided thoughts! AND YOUR FAV QUOTES. You better believe I’ve been scoping out the popular highlights on my Kindle to see what other pretty little lines everyone else has been loving.
With love, donuts, and wishes for good books, Rosie & Bean