When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publication: April 7th 2016 by Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback Pages: 344
‘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.’ – Goodreads
Yay, second post of the week! I’m hoping to post on Tuesdays and Saturdays now but it depends on how many books I chomp through in a week. There should always be a post every Tuesday though!
I finished reading When We Collided a while ago but needed some time to process my thoughts. I wanted to love this book SO badly because of the stunning cover (why does this keep happening to me?) but I didn’t.
When We Collided splits between Jonah and Vivi’s perspectives as they fumble about life. Jonah is dealing with the relatively recent loss of his father and its aftermath, which has left his mother in depression, and Vivi is new to town with her backpack of drama.
I appreciated that this book addressed topics such as depression and bipolar disorder but it pissed me right off that this wasn’t mentioned in the book description. Vivi has bipolar disorder guys; that’s what her deal is, and it causes some SERIOUS problems for not only herself but other characters in the book too. If you don’t know what bipolar disorder is, you might want to do a bit of googling before you read this book. Why? Well, because if you don’t, you’re probably going to rip the book in half and throw it at the wall because Vivi’s character is so damn exhausting to read. If I had gone into this book without an inkling of what bipolar disorder is, I would never have finished reading it.
When We Collided is not a particularly long read, it’s about 345 pages, but it took me almost two weeks to finish because every time I finished reading Vivi’s entry, I needed a break. Vivi’s entries were tiring enough when she was experiencing mania, but the writer didn’t help by throwing in unnecessary metaphors:
‘his dark eyes the color of a filled-up coffee mug when you stare into it – deep and brown and fading into black.’
What’s the point of saying his eyes are the colour of coffee when you’re going to go ahead and describe the colours anyway? I’m not even going to bother going into detail about the number of adjectives…
Although she did try to butt into Jonah’s life and sparkle it up a bit, Vivi was way too selfish and mean at times. I didn’t like how it felt like this aspect of her personality was somehow tied to her disorder. People with bipolar disorder are not inherently selfish or horrible, so this nagged me quite a bit and prevented me from liking her. There were moments where she was utterly incapable of understanding the people around her and how her actions may affect them; she pretty much treated her mother and Ellie – Jonah’s friend – like mats.
I find it so annoying when a character supposedly has their life ‘transformed’ by another character who does abso-freaking-lutely NOTHING for them. It frustrates me when the reader is basically told that someone wonderful is going to waltz into their lives and sort it out for them. Yeah, let’s all wake up now. Jonah was troubled, but he did not need Vivi to fix anything for him. Everything he was experiencing was normal, considering his circumstances; it would have all worked out for him without her interference.
I would have preferred a story on Jonah with more focus on his personality. His character could have been better developed in a story dedicated to just him, especially with the whole story about his father’s death and the restaurant business. It was sweet how he’d resort to cooking to make someone feel better. Jonah’s that guy who would leave homemade cookies and a fresh pie at your doorstep when you’re having a shit day. The world needs more people like him. The whole romance fluff with Vivi was meh. They didn’t ‘fit’. I appreciate that opposites can and do sometimes mix wonderfully together, but this was just bizarre.
I felt like Lord overdid it by trying to throw two characters addressing such huge topics as depression and bipolar into one book. The consequence of this was that Vivi’s bipolarity overshadowed everything in the book, and Jonah’s mother’s depression was something mentioned in passing. We only saw her depression through Jonah and his siblings, which I found problematic.
While Vivi does have some moments where she says some important things about the nature of depression to help Jonah understand what his mother is going through, ultimately, I felt like the way the topic was handled wasn’t very effective or helpful. It made her seem like a bad mother for not being able to pick herself up after her husband’s death, leaving her eldest teenage children to take care of the family while she locked herself up in her room. We don’t really see her struggle; we don’t get an idea of what she’s experiencing, we only see the effect of it on her children. That’s just how I read into it. I can appreciate that the point may have been to shed light on what depression can do to other members of the family too, but, for me, the way it was portrayed in this book made the person suffering seem like the bad guy. Not cool. I wouldn’t recommend this book.