Begin Again by Emma Lord #BookReview #RomCom #YA

Filled with a friend group that feels like family, an empowering journey of finding your own way, and a Just Kiss Already! romance, Emma Lord’s Begin Again is an unforgettable YA novel of love and starting again.

As usual, Andie Rose has a plan: Transfer from community college to the hyper competitive Blue Ridge State, major in psychology, and maintain her lifelong goal of becoming an iconic self-help figure despite the nerves that have recently thrown her for a loop. All it will take is ruthless organization, hard work, and her trademark unrelenting enthusiasm to pull it all together.

But the moment Andie arrives, the rest of her plans go off the rails. Her rocky relationship with her boyfriend Connor only gets more complicated when she discovers he transferred out of Blue Ridge to her community college. Her roommate Shay needs a major, and despite Andie’s impressive track record of being The Fixer, she’s stumped on how to help. And Milo, her coffee-guzzling grump of an R.A. with seafoam green eyes, is somehow disrupting all her ideas about love and relationships one sleep-deprived wisecrack at a time.

But sometimes, when all your plans are in rubble at your feet, you find out what you’re made of. And when Andie starts to find the power of her voice as the anonymous Squire on the school’s legendary pirate radio station–the same one her mom founded, years before she passed away–Andie learns that not all the best laid plans are necessarily the right ones.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Begin Again by Emma Lord is a delightful and engaging YA romcom about finding yourself. Andromeda (Andie) Rose is excited to start college at her parent’s alma mater, even after discovering her boyfriend transferred from there to the community college she moved from.  Sounds romantic? Think again! Andie has much self-discovery to go through, including learning about the true nature of her relationship with Connor.  Some discoveries are exciting, and others quite the bitter pill, but she must go through it all to come out on the other side, the person she was always meant to be.

Actual Reading Experience:

I just loved this story! I could relate to Andie’s college experience and empathize with her pain over her parents.  I even shed a few brief tears at one particularly poignant part in the story when Andie comes to terms with her complicated feelings of self that she tied together with her grief.  When she looks at her mom’s picture as her self-awareness becomes clear, it gives me all the feels.

I also loved the secret society/ribbon hunt plotline in the story.  It is a great deal of fun and made me wish I had something like that to do when I was in college.  I wouldn’t have minded if it had played a more significant role in the story as I wanted to know more. I love puzzles and games.

The writing is highly engaging and paints a story that feels authentic through and through for me.  This is my second book by Emma Lord, and based on the writing I experienced in both stories, I will continue to look for her books as they come out.  She takes me to a place where I can reconnect with my younger self and remember the fun and heartwarming aspects of my teens and college years.

Characters:

Andromeda (Andie) Rose – Andie is a fixer. She lives to help others solve their problems no matter what they are. And she always has a natural knack for finding just the right suggestions to offer. But she often hides behind her fixer persona, not dealing with her grief over her mother’s death and the anger at her father for leaving her in the care of her grandmothers when he moved to another town for work.

Connor – Connor and Andie have known each other forever – literally. After one semester at Blue Ridge State University, he transfers to the local community college, surprised to find that his girlfriend Andie is not there anymore. She is now at Blue Ridge. I had Connor’s number from the first moment he was introduced in the story, and that’s all I have to say about him.

Milo, Shay, and Valeria are the wonderful friends she makes at Blue Ridge State.  They help Andie discover who she is and support her when things go wrong.  They are a wonderful heartwarming group, full of personality and unique qualities that speak to their extraordinary character development.

Narration & Pacing:

The story is told solely through Andie’s POV in first-person narration.  She has a quirky way of using her favorite foods instead of profanity and a bubbly, outgoing personality that is infectious.  I’ve never used profanity, even during my college years, so I was okay with that detail, though I understand it is irritating for some readers.

The pace is quick and can be described as medium to fast.  I found that the book went very quickly for me – a one-sitting kind of read that I didn’t want to end.

 

Setting:

Blue Ridge State University is the setting for this fun yet poignant story.  The story is about college life and finding yourself, so the location is significant. The fictional college was true to real life.  The partying aspect was downplayed A LOT, but that wasn’t the main character’s thing, nor the people close to her.

Read if you like:

  • Coming-of-Age stories full of heart and personality
  • Stories about college living and learning
  • PG-rated YA romantic comedies

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Originality5
Writing Quality10
Pace10
Character Development10
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting8
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

15 Replies to “Begin Again by Emma Lord #BookReview #RomCom #YA”

    1. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected. There was something so relatable about it. Any the loss of a parent or child always moves me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I usually steer clear of YA romcoms, Tessa, but this one sounds so relatable and just from your review I felt a connection to the story. That it brought a tear to your eye really appealed to me – that told me that this isn’t all silliness and teen drama. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can see why you’ll be picking up more of Lord’s work in the future. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely not angsty or full of teen drama. It’s really mostly about dealing with grief over losing a parent. I loved that the reader can see why she makes the choices she does (grief) before she ever realizes it. It’s a great example of showing not telling.

      Liked by 1 person

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