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When We Collided by Emery Lord

By 22:00:00 , , , ,

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever. 

✱ Pages: 352 (hardcover)
✱ Publication date: 5 April 2016 (US)/7 April (UK)
✱ Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The tagline on the cover is "can you fall in love when you're falling apart?" and I think that's a really good question to explore. I've been reading quite a bit of fiction focused on mental health, so I was intrigued the moment I heard about this.

Vivi & Jonah

Jonah is struggling with a really difficult family situation, and he does it brilliantly - or at least as well as anyone could. I've experienced something a bit similar and the way he deals with being the step-in parent to his younger siblings is relatable, inspiring, and heart-breaking to me, all at the same time.

It's slightly harder for me to talk about Vivi's character because I don't know have much experience about bipolar disorder, but she's an interesting character - a force of nature, unapologetic about who she is and how she feels. In a lot of ways I wish I could be more like her.

Both these characters were wonderfully real, and Emery Lord puts them out there with all their faults, and lets us see that it's okay: it's fine to be a bit damaged, it's fine to need help. And most importantly, it's never too late to ask for that help and support from the people around us.

Family Life

Jonah's big family (six kids!) is dealing with a recent loss, and it seems the best they can hope for is to keep going, one day at a time, and this brings up the importance of family in a really touching way. We're introduced to the Daniels household, and we see it as something wonderful despite everything that's broken, despite everything they've lost. The surrounding community - other families - and their support are also touched upon, and I think it's lovely to see the goodness in people, and to think about the way we can help our fellow humans when they're in need.

Portrayal of Mental Illness and Medication

Mental health in teenagers and adults is an important theme in When We Collided. Bipolar disorder and depression (whether related to bipolar or not) are widespread, and affect so many. It's an important issue to talk about, especially in YA literature, and it's an important issue to get right.

This is exactly what Emery Lord does in her book. She really does get it so right. She talks about medication, she talks about doing stupid things, or not being able to feel anything, because of mental illness. But she assigns to stigma to it. It's really wonderful to see these topics handled in such an understanding, caring way.

I think the moment I fell in love with this book was when Vivi talked about her depression in order to connect with another character experiencing it. It just hit me as being so true to life, and it was incredibly touching.

This book gets me in ways most people can't. I fell in love with Jonah just like Vivi did, and I loved Vivi with the passion of someone who understands where she's been.
And the way mental illness is handled here? It's maybe the best I've seen.
Have you read Emery Lord before? Are you going to pick up this one? Do you have any favourite depictions of mental health/illness in literature?
Actually - if you are planning to read this, can you do it soon and then throw a pen at me on twitter/GR/here so we can discuss? Because I would love that.

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