Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Author Emery Lord's debut novel Open Road Summer was published in 2014, and was followed up by The Start of Me and You in 2015. The Start of Me and You was highly recommended by author Robyn Schneider in a video when she raved about the love interest in the YA romance. The book was out of stock at the Lethbridge Chapters, so I picked up Open Road Summer and finished it in almost one sitting. 

Reagan O'Neill is joining her best friend Dee Montgomery on a 24-city-tour for the summer. Dee is a country music superstar who has just used her own breakup with childhood sweetheart Jimmy to fuel enough songs for a new hit album. Think Taylor Swift. Reagan shows up to the beginning of the tour with her broken arm in a cast and her bad-news boyfriend behind her and she's looking forward to a summer away with her best friend. 

But things change when a nude photo scandal lands Dee in hot water, her publicist scrambling for a way out. Enter Matt Finch, singer-songwriter, used-to-be member of the band The Finch Four, "a wholesome teen band that included his sister and two brothers. When we were in middle school, the band was a phenomenon. All three boys were sweet-faced, and they had hordes of screaming preteen fans. All the girls I knew wanted to be Carrie Finch, and they all wanted to marry Matt, the youngest and closest to our age." He's the perfect person for Dee to pretend to have a relationship with while he takes over as the opening act for the entire tour. He's just gone through a break-up of his own.

Lord has written song lyrics throughout the novel, some for Dee and others for Matt, many of which dredge up their previous relationships as writing works as a way to move through the aftermath. Reagan describes the title song from Dee's new album Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee as written for Jimmy:

Middle of nowhere, Tennessee,
Exactly where I want to be.
Our initials carved into the old oak tree,
And every road takes me back home.
Middle of nowhere, Tennessee,
Dancing on the porch, you and me.
This is where I was born to be,
No matter how far I may roam.

The behind-the-scenes of a country music tour include Dee donning a disguise to see Matt play at a bar, stopping at a local county fair, and zipping into gas stations to grab snacks. It's a fantastic romance, a not-quite triangle that combines Dee and Matt's fake relationship and the real relationship developing between Matt and Reagan. Reagan's voice and demeanour makes her one of my favourite characters in the recent YA novels I've read. She's been in trouble, she still gets in trouble, but she's incredibly self-aware about her actions and herself. Lord's writing is pitch perfect. There are so many similes that hang at the end of sentences, never falling into cliche. It's some of the best writing I've read in a YA romance. 

I just picked up The Start of Me and You today, and am looking forward to Lord's third novel, which was recently given a release date for 2016.  Open Road Summer is such an excellent summer read, and Lord is certainly an author I'll be watching for!

No comments: