Cover of The Start of Me and You with a boy and a girl sitting together on a rock overlooking the water

About the Book

Title: The Start of Me and You (The Start of Me and You #1)
Published: 2015
Series: The Start of Me and You
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Stock Photo Syndrome
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: The School of Sarah Dessen
Bonus Factors: Nerd, Quiz Bowl
Relationship Status: Nerding Out

Cover Story: Stock Photo Syndrome

My problem with this artwork isn’t that the photo is generic, although it does look like the background of Deep Thoughts. The issue here is that the heroine of this book is deathly afraid of swimming because her boyfriend drowned, so there is no way in hell she would hang out by a massive body of water. And, if by chance she found herself on the edge of a lake or ocean, you better believe she wouldn’t be sitting down, soaking up the sunset and feeling romantic.

In other words, HOW DID THIS NOT COME UP IN THE DECISION PROCESS?

Mugatu from Zoolander shouting, "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"
Mugatu: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”

The Deal:

Paige Hancock used to be known as Grammar Girl, a nickname she earned (and despised) for correcting people’s sentences. But now that she’s known as The Girl Whose Boyfriend Died, her former title doesn’t seem so bad.

After Aaron drowned while on a camping trip, Paige’s world was consumed by grief and, perhaps worse, guilt for only knowing him a few months. Thanks to the support of her tight-knit group of friends, she eventually crawled out of the darkness, but its shadow still follows her through constant looks of pity from the residents of her small town. Paige, determined to shake it off, concocts a plan for the upcoming school year, a strategy for a better life that includes joining a new club and dating Ryan Chase, high school god.

But, as is often the way with plans, things go awry. But maybe awry is just what Paige needs.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Paige has plenty of qualities that I require in a bestie – she loves to spend Saturday nights reading in a book store; she wants to be a TV writer; she references Gilmore Girls; and she’s a hell of a good friend. She’s also been through a pretty severe tragedy and managed to come out of it in one piece, and I admire her quiet strength and compassionate heart. Sure, I found her Grammar Girl-isms a trifle annoying, but hey, us nerds have to stick together.

To be honest, though, one of the main reasons I wished we could be real life pals was so that I could SMACK HER UPSIDE THE HEAD FOR BEING AN IDIOT in the boy department. I mean, that’s what friends are for, right?

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Ryan Chase is certainly a great guy, not to mention hot, but I’m all about his cousin, Max Watson. More on his geek charm below, but Max and Paige share an instant connection, cemented by the fact that Max gives her a new nickname, Janie. I won’t spoil the origin for you (trust me, it’s great), but is there anything hotter than a boy calling a girl by a cool nickname? No, there is not.*

Emery Lord builds their relationship carefully and thoughtfully, and while it takes Paige WAY too long to realize that Max is the greatest, readers can enjoy him from the get-go.

*This is one of the many reasons I will always be Team Logan Huntzberger.

Talky Talk: The School of Sarah Dessen

I really enjoyed the style of Emery Lord’s first novel, but I’m happy to see her reaching new emotional depths in this book. Much like Her Royal Highness, Lord balances the lightness of burgeoning romance with the weight of serious themes, resulting in a contrast that accentuates both the tingles and the turmoil. Her straightforward approach and snappy dialogue make this novel easy to devour, but the story will stay with you for days after you finish the last page.

Bonus Factor: Nerd

Three nerdy looking boys in the school hallway from Freaks and Geeks

Max is the Seth Cohen best kind of high school nerd. He’s slightly awkward but slyly confident, and although he refuses to wear his Firefly shirt to school, he’s never ashamed of his bookish smarts and geeky taste. Because he’s not busy trying to be cool, Max is consistently thoughtful, and his friendship with Paige made me melt into a puddle of Sarah.

Bonus Factor: Quiz Bowl

Teens behind a booth with microphones facing a moderator behind a podium

While I wish this factor had played a bigger role in the book, Paige’s participation on the Quiz Bowl team was a fun walk down memory lane. (Yep, I was on an “Academic Challenge” team in high school. Because I was that popular.) And Emery Lord gets bonus points for the Mean Girls Mathlete reference.

Relationship Status: Nerding Out

A geeky boy? A bookworm girl? Quizbowl?! Book, you had me at hello, and I’m so glad that our relationship deepened beyond my initial crush. You’re smart and funny, and whether you’re talking about Jane Austen or Joss Whedon, you leave my heart all aflutter.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Bloomsbury Children’s Books. I received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review. 

Sarah lives in Austin, TX and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.