Open road summer by Emery Lord
Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408898703
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Romance fans will appreciate this summer road trip with three seemingly privileged teenagers. Country music and fame is the backdrop to exploring more than one kind of relationship - Emery Lord combines every girl's fantasy.
Reagan O'Neill's first bad-boy relationship was an act of rebellion. A survivor, she seeks healing by accompanying her best friend on her concert tour of the USA, for the summer break. Lilah Montgomery (Dee to her friends) is a rising Country and Western performer, who according to the media, is the girlfriend of her support act, Matt Finch - still only nineteen himself.
Reagan is slowly but surely attracted to Matt. Not only is Matt Finch attractive but he is equally as famous and talented as Dee. While Reagan takes incisive photographs of their exciting summer bus tour, Dee and Matt write their feelings into their song lyrics - an interesting device but a source of angst for Reagan. Despite focusing on Dee, who is grieving her own break-up and the price of her fame, the predictable love-hate banter between Reagan and Matt builds slowly to a sweet surrender to his charms. Almost immediately, Matt is set-up to fail, but he is determined to win Reagan back.
After Lord's more recent, The Names they Gave Us, we could be disappointed that Open Road Summer is a formulaic romance by comparison, but Open Road Summer actually predates The Names they Gave Us as a new edition of Emery Lord's debut novel. To be fair, Lord weaves in a few meaty realities - losing one's parents, valuing life-long friendships over casual hook-ups, not making bad choices, giving step-parents a chance, the price of fame and even the more topical problem of fake news. This won't be your favourite Emily Lord read, but it is more than just a beguiling daydream of love and fame.