Published by Walker Childrens on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Start Of Me & You
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Reagan’s best friend is Lilah Montgomery, famous country singer who she knows as Dee, and they’ve planned to spend their summer together as Reagan heads out with her on tour all across the country. Reagan has gotten into some trouble and things are a mess so she’s happy to leave home behind and spend some quality time with Dee who also has been hurting in addition to having a soaring career. When Matt Finch, former teen heartthrob, joins the tour as the opening act Reagan finds herself potentially in trouble with this boy who seems to disarm her with his good looks and charming personality.
Welcome to part 2 of Jamie Gushes Entirely About Another Amazing Summer Read. (Part 1 was Monday with my review of Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone). If you call the book blogging world your stomping grounds, you’ve probably heard of Open Road Summer and all the love for it pre-publication. I had my copy for many many months but decided to hold off until nicer weather because it just seemed like the kind of book to kick off the warm season with…but all the glowing praise made it hard. But I’m so glad I waited because reading this book outside in 70 & 80 degree weather with a beer in my hand was WORTH it. My happiness meter was overflowing with the nice weather and this absolutely charming as hell story!
Listen, I know the entire universe has probably told you to read this book and you are going to want to skip my thoughts because your whole entire feed is talking about it but THERE IS A GOOD REASON so get yourself a beverage and let’s talk for a bit.
1. Open Road Summer is a book that just feels like it encapsulates what summertime feel like to me and will make you feel exuberant and all sorts of happy. I just want to bottle it up and keep it for a gloomy day. It was just a very charming book that will quickly make you long for summer days and adventures and summer love. There’s friendship and romance and adventure and music and being on the open road and it all just comes together to make your heart explode from LOVE AND HAPPINESS AND FEELINGS. It was just really a FUN story (I mean, who wouldn’t want to go on tour with their famous singer of a BFF all summer). So if you are looking for a book that makes you feel absolutely light and happy and will make you smile lots…this book. At one point I was even cry laughing. (at the end — OMG. Major points if you’ve read it and can guess which part I’m talking about).
2. YAY FRIENDSHIP!! I loved the friendship in Open Road Summer and how solid it was. There wasn’t any jealousy or backstabbing or any things of that sort and it was just really refreshing to read. Reagan is genuinely happy and supportive of her bff’s success and I love the way the two of them interact and how they are always there for each other. The premise just added a lot to the dimension of their friendship because they remained the same with each other despite her success which was really fun to see. I mean, I ALWAYS wonder about the bffs of famous people — like the bffs before they were famous. So it was just a really fun, down-to-earth friendship story in that aspect and it seriously made me 1) super jealous of their fun bff-ship and 2) nostalgic for my high school bff.
3. Emery Lord went zero to sixty and raced ahead to be neck in neck with some of my ALL TIME FAVORITE ROMANCES. That’s a big deal for me to say. I mean, we are talking on the level of some that have been longstanding faves (Stephanie Perkins Anna & St. Clair, Gayle Forman’s Mia & Adam, etc.). I rarely change my favorite romances so I’m telling you…BIG THINGS HERE. For Matt Finch, I’d overcome my fear of needles and get a finch tattoo. I would. He’s the dream boy in book form — ridiculously sweet and romantic (seriously heart palpitations), sensitive, HE SINGS AND PLAYS INSTRUMENTS, he doesn’t take Reagan’s crap and calls her out on stuff and hes A NICE GUY. Genuinely and not boring. But the best part is how they interact. The banter. How Reagan can be so prickly about stuff but Matt Finch just sasses right back and totally make her tough exterior falter. I mean, Reagan gets mad when Matt writes a song about her when most of us would be flinging our panties right on stage…amirite? But I LOVED that about it. I thought the whole “he’s the faux boyfriend of my bff” thing was going to be more of a problem, and it was a tiny roadblock, but it wasn’t the huge forbidden-y love I thought it would be with major scandal. It was more her resistance to him that made the romance what it was. (Listen, I really shipped Dee and Jimmy too..it wasn’t just the Reagan and Matt show — that’s how well Emery Lord does romance).
4. Reagan..I loved her. She’s a character who maybe isn’t the easiest to click with right away and could rub you the wrong way but I instantly loved her and her attitude. I so thought that this was going to be a case where Reagan was the quiet ordinary one with this super famous bff who was the one who stole the show but it wasn’t the case. Reagan has this really tough exterior — she’s been in some trouble lately, she’s been hurt by a guy, she has major hurt from her mom who up and left when she was younger and she could be quite prickly and judgy. But I loved her so much. I instantly felt this kinship with her for some reason. In some ways, she reminded me of myself at that age though I wasn’t getting into trouble much. But she was stubborn, had some of the same defense mechanisms and the way she got about all Matt’s mushiness is SO how I would have reacted then. I thought she was a solid character and I just loved her perspective a whole lot — her flaws and all — and I loved watching her just let go of some of that anger she held so close.
5. My only thing I wish is that the travel-y/road trip aspect was more: I know that it was a tour so a lot of what was going on was whirlwind stops in cities and tour buses but I had hoped for some good travely bits. My favorite was a part involved a lake but I just wanted maybe a few more parts like that. But it really isn’t like a BAD thin because the story was perfect but just something I had hoped for.
I’m not even sorry that all I did was talk excitedly about this one. I mean, you don’t come here for super analytical book talk anyways right? But seriously..Open Road Summer is one of two books I am hereby declaring as THE books you must have in your beach bag this summer if you love contemporary YA (the other is Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson). It’s fun romp across country in a tour bus with two best friends and one absolutely heart palpation inducing Matt Finch that is funny, romantic, happymaking and explores how we let people in & learn to trust when we’ve carefully constructed walls against that. But seriously if you are looking for a fun, feel good read about friendship, has a main character who is real & flawed and an absolutely adorable romance…this is it! I promise! All the hype is warranted.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you DIE laughing at that part that included a Say Anything reference?? That whole part. And can we talk about the awesome parents (minus her real mom) in this book??