In my mind there are different levels of a good book: Kind of good, really good, solid good, really really really really really really reaaaaaaaaaalllllyyyyy good, and great. The fourth option is the hardest because it's literally one teeny-tiny, eeeeeeensey-weensey step below great... Like, not quite great.
That was this book for me.
Let me start out by saying that I really did enjoy myself. I read it quickly and adored the writing and the characters. I 100% recommend it to someone wanting a fairly light (actually, surprisingly light) contemporary with a very slow-burn romance and lots of laughter.
Paige was an awesome character. Most important thing: this girl made me laugh so hard. Her narrative was so enjoyable and genuinely witty. On top of that, she was endearingly flawed and adorable and a sweetheart, and I wanted her to overcome her fears and prejudices (she was veerrrryyy prejudiced about certain things) and be the amazing young woman I knew she was capable of being. Her story was interesting and unique, and the side characters were amazing, and the struggles were all real. Max was an incredible character and I was rooting for him from the beginning. Like, I seriously love reading about the good boys, the "boy next door" archetype, the loyal and adorable ones.
My favorite scene in the book was the closet scene (if you've read it, you'll know what I'm talking about) because MAX. He made me laugh so hard, and everything was so unexpected, and the feelings started to get super real then. I totally swooned over him because duh NERD BOYS WIN EVERYTHING FOREVER. Plus, I was on the edge of my seat until the VERY LAST FEW PAGES because of things Paige was dealing with on her own. It was really intense and I just wanted them to beeeeee together alreadddyyyyyy. *cries forever*
However, there were things I didn't love so much. For one, Paige's prejudices, as mentioned before. She's really kind of judgy about "nerds" or "geeks" - basically, me and my people. I mean, I understand (sort of) that high school is about rank and acceptance, etc etc. But really? You're around these amazing nerdy people and you're still saying things that are actually kind of jerky and rude? Paige wasn't a naturally rude person, so it almost didn't make sense. It got to a point where I felt like it was overdone. So what if Max wears a Firefly shirt... Maybe Ryan can make fun of his cousin's nerdiness (in an endearing way), but when Paige kept doing it, even when she started to fall for Max, it became annoying and unrealistic. It was even more unrealistic that while all that was going on, she was also suppressing that side of herself that likes words and reading and watching science fiction and analyzing things. Why is that so bad? Is that really how most teenagers act/feel? I was so disconnected with her on that aspect because...really?! I was never like that and I will never understand...not to that degree, at least.
There were so many aspects of Paige's unique struggle that I loved, but the one thing that bothered me is that it wasn't explained until late into the book why Paige was still mourning her 3-month-boyfriend's death an entire year later...when she hadn't even really known him that well and wasn't super emotionally attached. I was a bit confused the whole time. I've lost people in my life, so don't hear insensitivity, because I truly understand grief. But it also felt like a whole year was rather...long, for knowing someone that length of time, etc. Maybe if it had only been six months or something, that might have felt more realistic. All I know is that by the time I reached the actual explanation toward the end of the book, I was like, "Dang, I wish I would have known this 200 pages ago...her grief and hesitation and burden would have made soooo much more sense!"
So there you have it. I loved so much of it, but the things that bothered me were just enough to knock it down a star. Even still, I highly recommend this to people who want a solid summer fun read that will make you swoon and smile and laugh and feel the feels!
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
Really clean. Had some brief sexual jokes and maybe some minor curse words buuuut...I was really impressed with how clean it was. It didn't need anything over-the-top or gritty to be enjoyable.