When We Collided

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According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, more than 43 million adults in the United States are affected by mental illness every year.  With mental health being a common issue, it’s all the more important to highlight it through forms of media, including novels.

Emery Lord’s When We Collided takes place in the summertime in Verona Cove, California. Vivian “Vivi” Alexander and her mother have moved to the town for the season. Vivi, an outgoing and somewhat random teenage girl, takes an immediate interest in the town and its residents, landing a job at the local pottery store. It’s there she meets lifelong resident Jonah Daniels, a teenager who’s been struggling to keep his family together after the death of his father and his mother’s subsequent withdrawal from the real world. Vivi charms Jonah’s youngest sister and eventually becomes a friend to his four other siblings. Jonah, in turn, is drawn to Vivi because of her unfazed attitude toward his family life and her fearless demeanor. However, there’s a reason why Vivi is the way she is, a secret she doesn’t want in the open.

Honestly, I found Jonah’s character more realistic than Vivi. Her speech patterns and thought process were difficult to read because they felt all over the place. I understand that it’s the way her character was supposed to be, but it was just not my style. Jonah, on the other hand, was easier to understand, running his father’s restaurant in the shadow of his death and experiencing the incredible amount of stress that goes with providing for a family. I found that I related to Jonah better.

I did find the plot fairly predictable and didn’t really care for the love story aspect, but appreciate Lord incorporating mental illness as a major plot device. Her novel is an example of something that needs to continue to be out there.



Everything Leads to You

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Visiting Los Angeles, California has always been on my to-do list, but living 3,000 miles away and flights being very expensive can make that goal challenging. However, there’s plenty of ways to experience it through different mediums, this novel being one of them.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour takes place in the Los Angeles area. The protagonist, Emi Price, is an eighteen-year-old native who works to help dress sets for a major movie studio, picking out furniture and other pieces to place. The story picks up when Emi has just graduated from high school and is looking forward to the summer; her older brother has left her his apartment to stay in while he travels and she has her job to focus on. At the estate sale of deceased celebrity Clyde Jones, Emi finds an old Patsy Cline record, and in the record sleeve, a secret letter addressed to an unknown woman. With the help of her best friend Charlotte, Emi follows the letter to Clyde’s family secret that spans several generations and leads them to some of Los Angeles’s diverse neighborhoods. Emi also gets the ultimate chance to design all the sets for a feature film and discover more about herself in the process.

Being a huge movie buff, I liked reading about what goes into making a movie. Most people just see the finished product, not realizing that hundreds of people are involved in the actual process. When I was eighteen, I got the chance to be an extra in a low budget film shot near my hometown. It was unpaid, but it was amazing to be able to be part of a production, seeing all the cameras, lighting, the multiple takes, working with the director and the other people on set. It actually took the filmmakers two years to get the film from the writing stages to being released in theatres. Emi describes the jobs that most of the people have and how each role is essential in the film-making process.

LaCour combined the premise of movie making with a love story about two girls. I appreciated the diversity, as it made me realize that I haven’t read a lot of novels with gay or lesbian protagonists. The story’s themes also emphasize how movies are a kind of illusion, we see them and are captivated by them, but sometimes forget that they’re not real. I look forward to reading some of LaCour’s other work.