Released: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Source: eGalley from publisher (thank you!)
Summary from Goodreads:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
Not gonna lie, when I first heard everyone raving about this book I was skeptical. Nearly all of my closest blogging friends were saying that this book was amazing and I’d love it, etc. There have been instances in the past when I’m really excited about a book because of what my friends have said and then I come to find that I actually really don’t like it at all. When it comes to contemporary YA, I’m pretty picky. I’ve read A LOT in this genre, so my standards are high. When it came to Open Road Summer, my expectations were about as high as they get.
I am so, so happy to be able to say that I LOVED THIS BOOK. If you know me at all, you know that the most exciting part of the year for me is when the summer contemporaries are released. Since it’s Spring, that time has now begun, and this book was the perfect kick-off. There are so many amazing elements that make up this story that I’m going to break them down into categories.
The Focus on Friendship
While this story is very much a romance, it also places heavy emphasis on the importance of friendships. Reagan is the best friend of country superstar Lilah (aka Dee) Montgomery. She’s going on tour with Dee to get away from home and her not so awesome past. You could say she’s a bit of a reformed “bad girl,” I guess. Reagan and Dee have been best friends for forever, through thick and thin. The way their relationship is portrayed throughout the story felt so realistic and healthy to me. Female friendships seem hard to come by in YA, so I was very pleased by what a central role their friendship played in the story. They care so much for each other, but they also fight, as best friends do from time to time. I know not everyone has a best friend relationship like these two, but I love that Lord chose to show that girls can be close with other girls. Like, that is completely normal and I think female friendships are some of the most important relationships in girls’ lives, especially when they’re teens. WE NEED MORE FRIENDSHIPS LIKE THIS.
I could wait until the end of this review to talk about the romance in this book, but I won’t torture you. Two words: MATT. FINCH. This guy is the main love interest for Reagan and omg am I in love. He’s a musician that comes on tour with Dee and is her pretend boyfriend to divert attention from a publicity scandal, but those two couldn’t be further from romantically involved. They’re just friends. Matt’s relationship with Reagan is another story. First off, the way Matt and Reagan’s relationship forms is SO REALISTIC. It was truly refreshing to read about a romance that isn’t instalove (which I think is sad because that’s how all romances should be IMO). Like, it takes time for them to even get past the flirting stage. And once they do become a thing, they don’t instantly have sex or love each other. They get to know each other and learn each other’s flaws and take it slow. I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Emery Lord for that one because I am so sick of instalove and unrealistic representations of relationships. Also Matt is totally hot and sweet and RESPECTFUL, which is basically the trifecta of an awesome guy. I so wish he was real because he’s like the perfect boyfriend.
Reagan’s growth throughout the story probably stood out more to me than anything else. At the beginning of the story, I don’t think Reagan really knows who she is. She made a lot of bad decisions leading up to the start of the story, and is trying to become a better person. A lot of her time is focused on being a good friend to Dee and keeping to herself, rather than being the wild girl always in trouble. She defines herself by her past mistakes and that gets in her way with connecting with other people. But with the help of both Dee and Matt, she’s able to open up and thaw. Because Matt’s different from the guys she’s used to, he really helps change the way she looks at both herself and relationships. Over time, the focus becomes less on taking care of Dee and keeping to herself, to letting others in and forgiving herself. It was really neat to see the way she changed throughout the story because it did take a lot of time and it wasn’t always easy.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that you should definitely read this book, let me just say that YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ THIS BOOK. I mean, a hot guy, summer, road trip with awesome friends who are also country artists? What else could you ask for?
Rating: 5/5 stars