Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord


My Rating: ★★★★☆

Genre(s): Young Adult

Plot: [Copied from Goodreads] 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.


  • As is the apparent theme of my book choices this year, books about mental illness will never stop being important
  • I loved Jonah’s big family, and that they all dealt with their father’s death in different, realistic ways
  • There was a clear ARC of Vivi’s problems
  • I like that it was clear that Jonah and Vivi were intimate, but because it wasn’t a big deal to Vivi, it wasn’t a big part of the plot
  • This book carried a full range of emotions, from both sides of the story
  • The characters were incredibly relateable
  • Ellie is kind of awesome and I wouldn’t mind a book about her later on
  • Vivi’s outlook on past lives and the universe


  • Vivi’s father situation
  • How she left
  • I’m not really a fan of instalove, but given the rest of the book I can kind of see it being more realistic in their situation I guess


  • “No matter what heaven you believe in, your time on this earth will end. What I’m saying is that you should listen—really listen—to the slosh of the waves and the distant call of Pacific birds. You should feel a boy’s pulse against your cheek; you should fill your lungs with ocean air. While you can, I mean. You should do these things while you still can.”
  • “I know this feeling of being a ghost in your own life – no one sees you, no one feels you, so you stay still as if you could actually disappear at any moment.”
  • “You can ache for where you come from, and it’s homesickness. A relationship, and it’s heartbreak. But is there a word for missing your friends like that?”
  • “Maybe in my next life, I’ll be a wave in the ocean, and you’ll be a mountain, and we’ll spend years and years brushing up against each other. You’ll shift so painfully slowly, and some days I’ll crash right into you and other days I’ll approach gently, licking your sides. That sounds like us, doesn’t it?”
  • “Later in my room, I lift up my dress and twist to see the rainbow splotch of lotus on my side. And it occurs to me, what if I stopped hating it? What if the tattoo and the scar and this summer’s freckles are my patina? Wabi-Sabi says rust and faded paint hold beauty. So what if I let these marks be passport stamps from where I’ve been – one’s that don’t determine a damn thing about where I’m going next?”
  • “Yeah, you get a gift basket,” Ellie says. “Because depression fucking sucks.”
  • “My eyes fill, hot with tears. Because, apparently, casual crying is just something that I do now.”

My Thoughts: So, starting out, I was really iffy about this book. I was kind of caught off guard by the instalove, but I was interested in Jonah’s family dynamic and Vivi’s spontaneity. As I got to know the characters more, I grew to love them and felt all of the emotions for them. I’m glad that Vivi wasn’t just another girl with depression who tries to kill herself even though her life seems great, because that is sort of overdone as far as books about mental illness are concerned. The arc of Vivi’s illness became clear as the book went on, and I kept wanting to go JONAH CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING? But since he didn’t really understand mental illness in his own home, it made sense that he wouldn’t register what was going on with his own girlfriend. This book was sort of all over, like Vivi, like bipolar disorder, but it was done in a way that carried me through the plot with actual interest, instead of just a need to finish the book. I would definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a different kind of love story, and a different outlook on mental illness and the universe.

Emery Lord

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