Welcome back to the When We Collided Book Club, a book club wherein Bean and I attempt to beat a nonexistent Guinness World Record for talking more about a single book than ever previously done before. Actually, on second thought, I took Approaches to Reading and Interpretation. I spent A WHOLE SEMESTER discussing James Joyce’s Ulysses. I am humbly bowing out of this competition.
So, When We Collided. Where were last time? Well, in quick summary: we freaking love this book. In long summary: alright, just go read the post if you want a long summary.
Today on the topic agenda: secondary characters, the portrayal of mental illness, and how much I miss Bean. Oh wait, that last part isn’t related to the book.
Bean: So last time we talked about Jonah and how we’re maybe in a fight for his fictional love HAHA. You still on Team Jonah Marry Me?
Rosie: LOL yes. I think our girl Em (is it weird to nickname an author we don’t know?) could’ve written Jonah in a v different way–like he could’ve been edgy or a badass or an artist himself–and I could picture Vivi falling in love with any of those types of boys, but instead she wrote a boy unlike any I’d ever read before. AND THAT WAS THE PERF CHOICE. I nominate Emery to write all the fictional boys and raise all the real boys.
Rosie: He added this extraordinary quietness to the book that perfectly balanced Vivi.
Bean: And she writes his family EXCELLENTLY.
Rosie: YES!!! When I first read the book description and saw that Jonah had so many siblings I was like, oh nooooooo! I once read a book about a family with six siblings, and even on book two of the series I still didn’t know who was who. I was always flipping back to the beginning and having to skim the first chapter where all the siblings were initially introduced and it really took away from the reading experience. But I didn’t have that experience at all with When We Collided. Emery divided the siblings into “bigs” and “littles,” which was such a smart way to help distinguish them! She also gave each sibling one specific trait that made it easy to visualize them in my mind and therefore eliminated any future confusion. And she introduced them slowly, as opposed to having them all appear in the same paragraph for the first time. It was not confusing at all; instead, they’re all just v cool.
Bean: I agree. With a book that focuses on two characters heavily, I think it would’ve been really easy to give Jonah siblings who are just like character names with not a lot of depth to them. But Emery manages to give each sibling a unique personality that’s memorable, but not in a way that’s overwhelming to the reader. It’s really almost masterful. Who’s your favorite sibling?
Rosie: Man, that’s tough. I mean, I loved Leah because she was superbly adorable and her relationship with Vivi helped showcase a really soft and kind–yet still fun–side of Vivi. But I could really relate to Isaac and his love of walking and reading…and then I’d def love to have Silas make me a cup of coffee…Okay, this question is too hard. I liked them all. Who was your fav?
Bean: Mine has to be Naomi. When I know might surprise you because she’s definitely the least friendly and also not one of the cute little ones, but I think she’s just so real feeling! Like she’s in a pissed off mood because her family is falling apart and she’s had to pick up the slack. I wouldn’t like her if she was happy and cutesy and nice to Vivi from day one. I appreciate the honesty.
Rosie: That’s so true. It’s interesting because we know all these characters post-dad dying, but they were probably completely different people just six months ago, you know? Now it’s like they’re still those people but with a layer of grief and anger and confusion added on top. I think that’s why I loved Leah’s role. Because she’s so young, she experienced this loss differently. It was like she reminded her siblings that it was okay to laugh and smile.
Bean: Aw, yes. Obviously my second favorite is cute little peacock Leah. I will say the one secondary character I wanted more of, even just more anecdotes if not direct interaction, was Ruby. She was clearly so dear and important to Vivi, and I wish we got more back story there besides the inciting incident of the pause in their friendship. Maybe there’s a sequel coming and we’ll meet Ruby then???
Rosie: I hope so! Imagine how amazing the cover would be if it incorporated Ruby’s cool card designing?! I think a Ruby-Amala-Vivi sequel would be a really powerful story of forgiveness, and I would def buy. But also, I wouldn’t say no to a Jonah sequel…featuring Ellie? Oh God, am I betraying Vivi by wishing this? Let’s move on to something else. I’m too confused by my own emotions.
THE PORTRAYAL OF MENTAL ILLNESS:
Bean: I haven’t really read any reviews of When We Collided yet, mostly because I didn’t want to spoil it before I finished reading, but all I can say is that I hope Emery’s getting a round of applause for what she’s done for mental illness here. She very subtly and gently, but clearly, communicates the idea that a person might have a mental illness but they are not their mental illness. Vivi has bipolar disorder. She has depression. But she is creative, and loving, and stylish, and generous. She struggles but who doesn’t, right? That’s awesome. Like, truly.
Rosie: Yaaaas. I have to say, even though this book didn’t end with Vivi and Jonah riding off into the sunset on a white horse, it did still end with Vivi riding off. Probably on her super-cool, hopefully-repaired Vespa, too. So many books that address mental illness have the opposite of happy endings. I get this: unhappy endings can reflect reality, especially for those struggling with mental illness. BUT NOT ALWAYS. There’s no such thing as a perfect ending–in real life or in books–but I was really excited to read a book about mental illness that didn’t have a tragic ending. Because mental illness does not have to end tragically, and I’m really freaking happy to be reading a story that says that. To quote our boy Jonah, “The point is I’m trying to create good things in the midst of the bad.” I think sometimes we all need a reminder that it’s okay to do just that–to create good amidst the bad. This book is that perfect reminder.
Bean: I also love the underlying message about medicine. And therapy. That it’s ok to need them and use them and it doesn’t change you or hurt you or shame you in any way. God, I think we need more of that in this world. So kudus to Emery for doing it in such a graceful way!
Rosie: Yes! And that it’s okay to show people our dark places!! Honestly, Jonah and Vivi’s relationship made me appreciate my BFFs so much. (And I’m sure if I had a BF to appreciate this would’ve also made me appreciate him too.) You just don’t have to go through life alone, ya know? And finding someone that loves you–even the messy bits–is nothing short of a miracle. And now I’m half-crying cause I miss you too much.
Bean: Oh jeez now I’m crying a little because I miss you AND I’m sad this book is coming to an end!!
Rosie: Okay, you’re my BFF and I love you and I would give up nail polish AND mascara for a year if it meant we could spend an hour together in the same country, but I cannot talk to you until you finish this book. Bye.
So, there’s part two of Book Club. From your fav N*Sync soundalikes. Next time, we’re talking setting, Emery Lord’s writing style (spoiler: it’s amaze), and our overall thoughts of the book!
Stay tuned! And don’t forget to let us know your When We Collided thoughts.
Blog us, tweet us, when ya wanna reach us! (Okay, posting before Bean can intervene to say Kim Possible remixes are not on brand.)
Love and missing-each-other hugs,
Rosie & Bean