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when we collidedWhat: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Who: Bloomsbury Children’s

When: April 7th 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

3cats2I have been bumming around not writing my review for When We Collided for quite a while now. Not because I don’t know what to say about it, but because I am not quite sure how to articulate them.

When We Collided is told through two perspectives: Vivi and Jonah.

Vivi has bipolar disorder. Which is where the difficulty in writing this review comes in. Because, you see, I didn’t particularly like Vivi. I felt that her bubbly rainbows, sunshine, and lollipops attitude at the beginning of the novel was a little overbearing at times. And later on, when she was jealous of Jonah for simply speaking to his lifelong best friend (who happened to be a girl), when she was all about the sex and not at all about the emotion behind it, and when she was doing stupid, dangerous shit … I really didn’t like her.

My ambivalence towards saying that I didn’t like Vivi much at any particular point in time in When We Collided stems from the fact that a lot of her actions were most likely influenced by the fact that in the time we get to know her, Vivi is heading towards a manic episode. So I feel uncomfortable saying that I don’t like her when the actions that I did not like or appreciate in her character were influenced by her mental health. I certainly don’t judge her for the actions that were influences by factors out of her control. But Vivi as a character in general was not one that I warmed to on the whole.

Jonah, on the other hand, I did like. Not all too much, because I felt like a lot of the time he was too perfect, and also too passive. I did love the fact that he held his family so close to his heart, and was willing to do pretty much anything for them. Jonah, I feel, could have done more to learn about who Vivi actually was, rather than just being drawn to her bubbly personality and frivolity. When her moods plummeted and when she seemed overall different, he shouldn’t have just gone with it. I wanted more from Jonah.

I have to say I wasn’t a fan of how he thought about and treated his mother. Yes, she’s not providing for her family or taking care of it the way she should be after the death of her husband, and her children’s father.  But she’s also depressed. And Jonah just continually dismisses her. Instead of talking to her about what’s going on with her mental health, he talks to everyone but her. Instead of seeing her strength in doing the little things, he ignores them completely. So yeah, not keen on that aspect of his personality.

I loved that both Vivi and Jonah had a passion. Vivi loves art and clothes and fashion. Jonah loves food and cooking. I really love it when characters have passions like these because I feel like they just add a lot more to the “realness” of them.

Overall, When We Collided was a story about two people who meet over the summer and are different people by the end of it. In all honesty, I would have loved more closure on a few things, but I guess that’s life. Things are left open, and you never know what happens to people after you leave them.

trigger warning: medicated depression and bipolar disorder, depressed parent, depressed sibling, absent parent, death of a parent via heart attack, self harm, psychiatric hospitalisation, and mention of loss of family via car accident in this novel

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

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Posted on: May 10, 2016 • By: Chiara

10 Responses to Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

  1. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. I know it can be difficult to see that a character or a person has a mental illness but still not LIKE how they act when dealing with that. I am curious about this one. I appreciate books that touch on this topic but it’s still good to go in knowing that characters aren’t always likeable.


    • Chiara says:

      No problem! It was quite difficult to not like Vivi, knowing that the actions I didn’t like were influenced by her mental health. I hope you like it if you do get around to reading it, Lauren!

  2. Denise says:

    Thank you for being honest about this one! It can be hard to express your opinions on a character with a mental illness without sounding disrespectful or mean, but thank you for your honesty about Vivi, because she sounds like a character that might get on my nerves. The plot of this book never really appealed to me (it sounds very similar to All the Bright Places, which I didn’t enjoy) but after hearing loads of raving reviews, I was thinking I might give this book a chance. Now I don’t think it will be the book for me. Lovely review, as always, Chiara! ♥

    Denise | The Bibliolater

    • Chiara says:

      No problem! It can be really hard, and I did try my best to share my feelings on her character overall. I had heard so many amazing things about this author, which is ultimately why I decided to give this one a go. I suppose I am glad I read it, because I think we do need books about mental health, but it definitely wasn’t a favourite. Thank you, Denise! <3

  3. Emily Mead says:

    It’s always hard with mental illness because the line between their illness and their personality can be so…difficult to gauge, I guess. But yeah, I wasn’t such a fan of Vivi either. Although I guess I was more forgiving of Jonah because it’s such a hard position that he was in…crazy that he just did everything without asking for adult help.

    • Chiara says:

      It was really difficult to write about Vivi because of that blurry line. Oh, Id id like Jonah overall. What he was doing for his family was amazing. But his treatment of his mum left me a little dissatisfied.

  4. Romi says:

    Trust in Romi to have seen pictures of this book on blogs and instagram -rather a lot- over the past month and a bit and to still not know a single thing about it. Possibly I even heard reviewer stuff about it? So surely I *do* (or *did*) know what it was about, but have since forgotten. I’m pretty sure you can tell exactly the expression I am currently wearing.

    Unfortunately, I feel like I… have very little to say about it, because it obviously wasn’t the most enjoyable/easiest read for you and it still doesn’t sound like my kind of read. Your review really interested me, and that end paragraph was really gorgeously written. I feel like it gives a really beautiful sense of what the book is about, of the feel of it, and it conveys a lot.

    I’m sorry this was a less than enjoyable read, for the most part, and never really got to the stage where you really appreciated it. It sounds like it would have been really good to see Viv in some flashbacks, where-in she wasn’t spiralling towards the episode you mention, since then you might have been able to get a better sense of her character beyond her bipolar, if/when she was in a more stable position. It’s interesting she never got to the point in her character-arc where you felt, maybe, like you could tell definitively whether it was *her* actions or the actions that came from her bipolar and mental health that made you not a fan of her character. It makes me feel like maybe her story was left intentionally unfinished.

    • Chiara says:

      By the cover, I really had no idea what it was going to be about, either. I thought it was just be a straight up teen drama romance, but it certainly didn’t quite fit into that box!

      Thank you, lovely <3 If you ever did want to read it, I have a spare copy ;D

      I suppose the byline kind of gives it away - "how can you fall in love when you're falling apart". But I really do think Vivi would have benefited as a character if I had gotten to see her before the beginning of her manic episode. I feel like I could have gotten to know her better, without the questioning of her actions and attitudes towards some things. But maybe you're right. I think it was possibly intentionally done that way.


  5. This book does sound like it was difficult to review – particularly for the characters that you didn’t warm to much. A shame about Vivi’s character, I’ve heard a bit of the same from other reviewers. Great review Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      It was! But I tried my hardest to be even with it, so I hope it ended up okay >.< Yeah, Vivi was a difficult character to like, to be honest. Thanks, lovely <3

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