*This novel was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Emery Lord is an author whose works I’ve been looking to sample for a little while now, so it’s been great to have the chance to do just that. The cover is bright and eye-catching, and the chaotic canvas vibes feel particularly appropriate the further into the story you read. There was a lot to like about this book but also plenty that frustrated me, mostly towards the latter half of the novel. I’m aiming to avoid any spoilers but I’m warning you anyway, just in case.
I simply have to kick things off by talking about the beautiful descriptions of coastal scenery that fill this book, especially at the beginning. I love seaside towns (and the beach in general) and I can completely understand why Vivi’s character fell in love with Verona Cove. If I were her I think I would have too! We also got some even more beautiful descriptions of food. Jonah wants to be a chef, and just reading about all of the different ingredients and dishes he makes made me super hungry! You could really tell he was passionate about it too; he put his heart and soul into his cooking.
In case it wasn’t clear enough: Jonah is my precious baby and I will protect him at all costs. He was an adorable little cinnamon roll too pure for this world. I may be slightly biased, since I preferred him over Vivi, but he just seemed like such a good guy, doing his best to support and provide for his family while simultaneously working through his own grief. In fact, his whole family was wonderful. I really appreciated the emphasis that was placed on familial relationships within this story, and many of Vivi’s interactions with Jonah’s sweet little sister Leah were my favourite scenes of the book.
Awareness and representation of mental illness featured heavily throughout this novel and you could tell that the author really knew what she was talking about. Having been fortunate to never have experienced any kind of severe mental illness myself, I felt as though Vivi’s thoughts and feelings about her condition gave me an insight – however brief – into what living with something like that is like. With this in mind, I thought the novel’s ending was a realistic one given the circumstances and I’m glad it ended the way it did.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the character of Vivi. On the one hand I love her kindness and her creativity and most importantly how willing she is to make other people’s lives brighter. She was bubbly, vivacious and fun-loving. But on the other hand she was the epitome of the manic pixie dream girl trope. At her lowest moments she could be selfish and manipulative and I really really hated that. I get that she wasn’t perfect but sometimes it felt like she wasn’t even trying to be nice, particularly to other girls she was jealous of.
Speaking of jealousy, there was an abundance of it between the two main characters and it really served to highlight how this couple were never really that well suited each other. They never communicated with one another in a particularly healthy manner – most of the time it would deteriorate into a make out session. While I understand that this was in part down to Vivi’s mental illness, I couldn’t bring myself to forgive it. I think I would have enjoyed this story a lot more if Jonah and Vivi had just had a really close friendship where they listened to each other’s problems and helped each other understand what was happening in their lives and how they could deal with their respective struggles. After all, why is romance always presented as the first step to fixing a problem? You don’t need a significant other to get support and acceptance from people who care about you. Just once, can the curse be broken with true friendship’s high five?
It was tough, but I’m giving When We Collided three stars. I’m still going to give this author’s other works a go because I did really enjoy the writing style, but this particular story didn’t blow me away. It’s definitely worth a read for the way it depicts living with mental illness but I’m not sure I would ever reread it – at least not all the way through.