YAY! Another YA Contemporary that I ended up liking! I make it no secret that YA Contemporary Romance is not really in my comfort zone, but this summer I decided — totally randomly — that I was curious about reading some of the books from this genre that people have been raving about lately. I’ve just been in the mood for some fluffy light-hearted fun!
But I was kind of nervous — would I even like any of these books? Well, I officially deem this experiment a success! This summer, I tried out 5 YA Contemporary Romances: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, and finally Open Road Summer by Emery Lord! Two out of the five I didn’t really enjoy that much, but the other three I loved! So I’m definitely feeling a lot more open-minded about the genre, and happy that I decided to pick up a few books that were a little different than what I normally read.
Open Road Summer was such a cute and fun story…I just couldn’t help but love it! My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Dee and Reagan. I love the idea of having a best friend that you’re just that close with. They’re super supportive of each other, but also totally capable of calling each other out when it’s necessary. They were just so sweet and adorable together. It made me miss being in high school and having a really close best friend like that.
I was also surprised by how much I liked the road trip and country super star aspects of this book. I went into the book thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy reading about those things, but besides a little bit of eye rolling about how obvious it was that Dee’s and Matt’s characters were obviously drawn from real-life singers Taylor Swift and Nick Jonas, I was able to really lose myself in this world of paparazzi, tour buses, hotel rooms, and award shows in a way that definitely surprised me. Lord created this convincingly real summertime country atmosphere that I just straight-up loved and couldn’t get enough of!
One thing that I wasn’t crazy about was Reagan’s personality, though. There were times when I really, really loved her, related to her, and thought she was hilarious and a perfect main character. And there were also times when I loved that she was also flawed, with her snarky attitude and cigarette addiction that helped to round out her character. But, at times, I felt like Lord was trying a little too hard to make her a not-cookie-cutter Contemporary narrator (like by giving Reagan an oh-so-artsy and deep hobby of photography and a bizarre obsession with high heels) that it came off a little fake.
I also started to really resent Reagan’s attitude towards other girls as the book went on. Even though Reagan herself was very open about her sexuality (which is so great for a YA book!) and often spoke about her desire to look hot, she compares herself in a very defensive and almost vicious way towards other girls, which is something that I didn’t appreciate. For example, there’s one part when she says this: “There are a few girls in the front with shirts cut so low that they make my neckline look modest. Like, honestly — if Matt so much as glanced down, he probably could see all the way to their belly buttons. Some girls have no self-respect, and even though they can’t see me, I make a face of disgust. Case in point: if Matt and I were together, I’d have to put those girls in their places. And I really can’t afford another misdemeanor.” I just got really sick of that kind of competitive attitude she had towards other girls, and how she always seemed seconds away from scratching another girls’ eyes out because she was either acting or dressing “slutty” — even though Reagan herself often talked about things like how she felt the need to adjust her bra to make her boobs look better or that she loves high heels so much because they make her butt look good. It just seemed very hypocritical and I couldn’t relate to her constant jealousy and need to compare herself to other girls. And she never was really punished for this bad behavior either — in fact, when she ends up meeting one of these girls, she ends actually being the jerk that Reagan thought she was, which I feel like only served to make her feel vindicated for being the kind of person who makes those catty assessments of people in the first place.
So, unfortunately, I couldn’t rate this book quite as highly as I wanted to because of that whole weird side of Reagan’s character, but I honestly did really enjoy reading this book, and I particularly liked the ending. I’m definitely interested in reading more from Lord in the future — I really loved her writing style and how deep and real all of the characters seemed.