Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker/Bloomsbury
Genre: young adult contemporary romance, FEMSHIP
Format/Source: ARC, publisher
Status: standalone, but I totally hope one day Emery has the desire to do a sequel

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

I don't know if I can properly tell you how much I loved Open Road Summer. I read it toward the end of March, and I had been having a really rough time reading. Nothing was holding my interest. Finally I cracked open this beauty, and my goodness, it was worth it. I needed this book to get my head back in the game. Open Road Summer is one of those amazing books that has literally every component necessary to make me fall in love. It's not just that this is a fun contemporary with a great romance. There's humor, there's substance, there's amazing friendships! There are references aplenty to my beloved home state! This book is the perfect storm of all these things plus just really great writing. While at TLA, I had the pleasure of meeting Emery's editor, and I was able to tell her that it's completely obvious that this book is an act of love of everyone who had their hands on it. I'm serious. It's just incredible.

I get a little defensive when I see certain critiques of Open Road Summer and Julie Murphy's Side Effects May Vary, namely that Reagan and Alice are unlikable because they are hot messes. Look. Not every character can have their crap together. I actually love that Open Road Summer is a book about the best friend, not the star. Dee is the perfect girl. I like her, yes, but I don't relate to her that well because she's so level-headed and with it. Reagan, however, has made mistakes and is trying to move past them. Then, she makes more. I love it! Real life is difficult and messy, and Reagan is living proof of that. Personally, I like my main character with flaws. If you don't, then honestly, this book might not be for you. Meanwhile, I'm going to be over here with Reagan, slightly jaded but hopeful and working to move past it.

I think the best aspect of Open Road Summer is hands-down Emery's ability to perfectly capture beautiful relationships, both friendships and romance. I love Reagan and Dee's dynamic. It makes me so sad that some readers don't accept Reagan's messiness because Dee loves her for it, not even in spite of it.  These girls have so much going on individually, and I love how supportive and loyal they are no matter what they have going on. Sometimes, when you're friends for that long, you just instinctively know what your friend needs. Reagan and Dee totally have that. Sure, we also witness a crazy fight, but again, life is not neat. Sometimes you also have to fight for the good things, even if you have to fight the people you love. I also love the friendship between Dee and Matt, who are the contemporary version of Aria and Roar. They are totally 100% platonic, but they understand each other in a way that Reagan will never understand either of them. I love the way Emery showcases their artistic connection. I actually don't want to say too much about Reagan and Matt's romance because I think that's best experienced first-hand. I think the two of them are great together. They heal one another. Both of them are hesitant to open themselves to love, and it's really awesome to watch them attempt to overcome those walls.

So much about this book could have been clichéd and ridiculous. I love books and I love music, but I normally find songs that were written for books to be cheesy. In this case, I think Emery displayed great talent as a songwriter because Matt and Dee's lyrics are spot on with minimum cheese. As I said earlier, Emery delivered all the things I expect and want/need from a summertime contemporary, but she made everything unique and fresh, even the small-town 4th of July festival. I found this book to be compelling and relatable, and I the only I want is more! I would be completely happy with a book or novella from Dee's persepective because I think there is a little more story to tell. The only thing I left to tell you guys is that this is one of the best books I've read all year, and you really should just go ahead and read it already!
Book Links:

About the Author:
Emery Lord is a 20-something Midwestern girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you're not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name "Emily," and that will get you really close. 

She lives in Cincinnati in a 100 year-old pink row house with her BFF/husband, a closet full of dresses, and lots of books. If karaoke-ing in grocery store aisles or guzzling coffee while impulse shopping were illegal, Emery would be writing her overemotional YA books from jail. Also, she makes up words sometimes. Like combustibly.

OPEN ROAD SUMMER, her first YA novel, is out April 15th, 2014. A second YA novel TBD will be released Spring 2015.

Author Links:

Just a heads up: I will be giving away a copy of Open Road Summer when I recap the First Loves Tour.


  1. Oh my goodness, this sounds so fabulous :)! What an awesome review!

  2. Sounds like a great story. Thanks for the review! :)

  3. I am ever behind but I have this one on my shelf! I am so glad you loved it. I've read countless positive reviews for this one. Cannot wait to read it!