by Emery Lord
To be published by Walker Books
on April 15, 2014
Source: giveaway at ALA
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: I love road trip books. And even though I'm not a big fan of country music, I've loved every country music-themed YA that I've tried (books like Paradise by Jill Alexander and Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols.) There's something about the heartbreak and angst of a country song that meshes perfectly with the heartbreak and angst of the teen years.
I loved Open Road Summer. It's a book about female friendship. It's a book about following your dreams. It's a book about finding the right guy, but also a book about learning from that failed relationship with the wrong guy, learning that you deserve more.
I loved Reagan. She's my favorite kind of female protagonist -- tough and wary on the outside, but loyal and a little insecure on the inside. I loved Lilah the country singer too. I tried to give this book to one of my teen reviewers recently and after she saw the words "Taylor Swift" on the cover, she wrinkled her nose. I guess Taylor is somewhat polarizing?? If you love Taylor, you may see some of her in Lilah. But if Taylor isn't your thing, Lilah is certainly not a Taylor clone. I liked Dee/Lilah's character just as much as Reagan's, and I loved the fact that Lilah's story was partly about what women have to go through and give up when they pursue their dreams, because that's something I've been thinking about lately.
Contemporary/realistic YA is a big genre -- one that encompasses everything from fluffy escapist books to dark issue books. My favorite books are those that manage to balance both the dark and the light, and Open Road Summer does exactly that. There are funny moments, there are serious moments, there are sad moments -- just like real life.
If you're a fan of authors like Huntley Fitzpatrick, Rainbow Rowell or Sarah Dessen, you should definitely, absolutely push Open Road Summer way up on your TBR list!