When We Collided by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s in 2016
My copy: Paperback
Seventeen year old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he’s not. Now Jonah must numbly take care of his family as they reel from their tragedy. Cue next change: Vivi Alexander, new girl in town.
Vivi is in love with life. A gorgeous and unfiltered hurricane of thoughts and feelings. She seems like she’s from another planet as she transforms Jonah’s family and changes his life. But there are always consequences when worlds collide.
We have two narrators in this young adult novel – Jonah who is grieving the death of his father and struggling to look after his siblings, and Vivi, the new girl in town who is a complete whirlwind of fun and energy. And as with most young adult novels, we deal with a lot of different issues, but mainly that of mental health.
Vivi is a bright and vibrant character, and I liked the way she was so open-minded and accepting of Jonah and his dysfunctional family. Her attitudes were admirable and I did like her carefree approach to life – and the fact there was more hidden under the surface. The relationship with her mum was very telling, as she was so much more strained with her than with everyone else. But if she was your friend she would probably drive you completely mad! She was just a bit much at times and I think if I knew someone like that in real life I would probably spend half the time trying to avoid them. However, there are reasons why she acts as she does, which become much more apparent as the book develops, and this felt well handled, and gave us an insight into Vivi’s mind.
Jonah on the other hand is a much more balanced character and I really felt for him as he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, looking after his family while his mother struggled to cope after the death of his father. He was a really sweet and sensitive character – yet he was ultimately a teenage boy too and I think he was portrayed very well.
In fact I couldn’t help but feel that the book could have just been about Jonah and I would have liked it even more!As well as focusing on Jonah’s family life, the novel also has a really interesting foodie elements. Jonah’s dad worked in a restaurant where Jonah now works, and his love for food and ideas to help his father’s business shine through this novel and again show us another side to his character. It also felt a bit different for a YA novel to have a more business-focused storyline, and it definitely worked well here. Vivi was a complex character too, but it sometimes felt a bit much and I found it harder to relate to her at times.
Overall I did enjoy this novel, and I liked the ending too. It dealt with various issues and a brave and honest way, and the two main characters were both very interesting and three-dimensional – even if Vivi was a bit of a handful!
My rating: 7 out of 10