I received a copy from Netgalley.
Emery Lord is one of my favourite authors and on my automatic buy list. So I jumped at the chance when I saw this one on Netgalley. And did a little happy dance when I got approved fairly rapidly (almost within the hour I think). When I started this one I must admit, I didn't like it much. I had a great deal of difficulty connecting at all with Vivi as a main character. Jonah's situation was much easier to be sympathetic with. I very nearly DNFed several times. I just was not getting this book at all. Until about the 70% mark or so when the emotional impact really hit.
I'm not even sure what it was as I have no personal experience with any of the themes in the novel other than the occasional mild stint of depression, but nothing near the levels described in this novel. I've never lost a parent. Yet when I finished this book I cried for nearly fifteen minutes. It must have been something to do with the serious side of mental health taken to heart and partly the information and the personal touch of the author’s note at the end.
For the most part of the novel, Vivi’s manic personality drove me up the wall. She was a firecracker, all over the place, all the time. Started off cute, but became tiring very quickly. And frankly, I found her irritating as hell. I did like how she handled Jonah’s family and how she understood his situation with his mum’s depression. She was much more sympathetic to the mum’s needs when Jonah and the rest of his siblings (the older ones, really) don’t seem to get the severity of the mum’s depression and seem to keep thinking she’ll get over it. Jonah’s struggling to keep it together after the death of his father and keep a lot of siblings together. Two older siblings are there for the summer, one’s home from college, one’s on their way to college. Jonah’s got senior year of high school to go. He works at their father’s restaurant with the family friend and business partner and his daughter. He pretends everything’s okay. But he’s barely keeping it together.
The family struggle side and the business struggle side were sad, with hope filtered in when Jonah takes his love of cooking and ideas to help turn things around with some help. However, in comes Vivi with her whirlwind personality who breezes into his life and charms both Jonah and his siblings. She gets on really well with the younger children.
The connection between the Jonah and Vivi is sweet as they learn to cope with each other and their feelings for each other. It moves pretty quickly but it's certainly not all smooth sailing and romantic fun which adds a much more authentic and realistic tone to the relationship.
It’s hinted at several times that Vivi did something pretty horrible to her friends before she moved to Jonas’ town for the summer. But it’s hard to know if she feels bad about it. One minute she’s thinking about it – the next she’s off on something else. She’s got a somewhat stable relationship with her own mum, a single parent. Vivi knows nothing of her own father. Which becomes a pretty important plot twist about half way through.
The themes of depression and mental illness are incredibly well dealt with, at least it seems so to me. I have nothing to compare to, but it seems like so much care has gone into the information and the characters dealing with difficult issues that even though I didn’t like Vivi much, I felt for her by the end. The emotional impact is incredibly moving. So it was definitely worth sticking with the book even if the beginning was a struggle to get through.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.