Cover of Begin Again by Emma Lord. Two white college students, a boy and a girl, stand in front of a college building with a radio antenna on the roof.

About the Book

Title: Begin Again
Published: 2022

Cover Story: Three Bars
Drinking Buddy: Kegger
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (alcohol use, language)
Talky Talk: I’m Feeling My Age
Bonus Factors: Awesome Grandmothers, College Secret Societies, Pirate Radio
Bromance Status: See You at the Reunion!

Cover Story: Three Bars

An okay picture, I guess. The antenna is supposed to represent the college’s pirate radio station, but it looked more like a WiFi symbol to me.

The Deal:

Andie didn’t have the grades to get into Blue Ridge State (we’re never told which state) with her rich boyfriend Connor, so she had to stay in her hometown and go to community college. But after one semester, she surprises him by being accepted into BRS. Won’t he be shocked when she shows up at his dorm?

Except…Connor transferred to the community college to be with Andie (this couple has some serious communication problems). Now she has to spend a semester alone at her late mother’s alma mater.

But maybe the situation isn’t so dire. Her roommate, Shay, is awesome, as is Milo, the gruff RA, and Valencia, her math tutor. And there are secret societies on campus, ones you can be invited into if you collect enough ribbons at events (with Connor temporarily gone, she has to collect ribbons for him as well). Plus her mother founded a pirate radio station back in the day. And it’s still around. Wouldn’t it be something if she could get involved?

Of course, the real reason she’s here is to be with her boyfriend. The guy who didn’t tell her about his plans to drop out and keeps trying to convince her to re-enroll in the community college.

Drinking Buddy: Kegger

Two pints of beer cheersing

Andie’s thing is that she wants to help everyone with all their problems. She ran an advice column at her old school, and is determined to be the life coach to all her friends. Milo needs to get off the caffeine. Shay needs to pick a major. Valencia needs to show the world her wonderful writing projects. Her father needs to open up about why he abandoned his daughter when his wife died.

But of course, the biggest problems in Andie’s life are her own. Is Connor worth pining for? Should she try to replicate her mother’s college experience? And just what does she want out of college and life?

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (alcohol use, language)

So in the first chapter, when Milo is described as having ‘sea foam-green eyes,’ I immediately knew where this was heading. The surly RA, who’s stretched so thin that he probably hasn’t slept since freshman year and who drinks so much coffee he sweats Kona dark roast, actually has a sweeter side. He helps Andie find her feet at school, introduces her to his gardener mother, and commiserates with her over the death of a parent. Milo’s been hurt as well. He recently caught his girlfriend cheating on him…with his own brother. Maybe these two could help each other find a path. If it weren’t for Andie’s boyfriend, ol’ what’s hisname.

Talky Talk: I’m Feeling My Age

Ah, there was a time when your parents’ college days were in the 1960s or 70s, not in the early to mid 2000s (I graduated in 1997). But some things never change, and certain details threw me.

For starters, could both Connor and Andie really have changed schools without the other one suspecting? Connor’s wealthy mother was furious with Andie for letting this happen, but she only confronts her after he’s dropped out. And with social media and friends in common, I’m sure someone would have spilled the beans. I find it hard to believe a together girl like Andie would keep all this under wraps just to surprise Connor.

Also, there was a mean ol’ professor character who turned out to be secretly nice, which was straight out of Legally Blonde. There’s no way in hell a professor would confiscate a student’s personal property because they were late for class.

Still, college is a time for self-discovery, and that’s what this book is about: Andie realizing not everyone she meets needs fixing…including herself.

Bonus Factor: Awesome Grandmas

Betty White, who plays a wacky grandmother, emphasizing Sandra Bullock's flat chest in The Proposal

Andie lives with her two grandmothers. No, they’re not a couple, they’re the mothers of her parents. When Andie’s mother died and her father kind of moved away, they both stepped in to raise her. Opposite in personality, but united by a love for Andie, they go the extra mile to make sure she’s happy.

Bonus Factor: College Secret Societies

Gathering of men in the movie The Skulls

Every college has some sort of secret society, be they unofficial fraternities, or the future power brokers of America. At Andie’s college, it’s a fun competition. You show up to events, earn ribbons, and if you get enough of one color, you’re invited to join. Her mother was in one. And Andie really wants to be in one too. Of course because she made Connor drop out, he’s going to fall behind, so she has to collect ribbons for him as well. Which is kind of cutting into her studying/class/relaxing/sleeping time. But it’s all worth it in the end, right?

Bonus Factor: Pirate Radio

A vintage wooden box radio

So before podcasts were a thing, if you wanted the world to hear your voice, you could operate a rogue radio station. You’d need a secret operating base, and have to straddle the line between edgy, but not so edgy the authorities decide to smoke you out. BRS’s outlaw broadcast was started by Andie’s mother and still continues to this day. If only she knew someone who could introduce her to the DJ. Maybe she’ll ask Milo, the guy with the great voice who never gets enough sleep for some reason…

Bromance Status: See You at the Reunion!

Every time I get together with one of Emma Lord’s books, I’m already anxious for the next one.

Literary Matchmaking


Margot Wood’s Fresh is another great new adult book.

On the Subject of Unmentionable Things

Julia Walton’s On the Subject of Unmentionable Things also deals with an anonymous advisor.

Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute is another fine book by the same author.

FCC full disclosure: I received neither money nor ribbons for writing this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.