Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute is a book I recommend to anyone who is interested in YA or who wants to see if they could be into it, so when I saw Begin Again (hello, Taylor Swift reference!), I knew I had to get my hands on an ARC to review. Between the promise of pirate radio and a main character who likes to try to help everyone around her fix whatever they need (*ahem* I can relate to this), I knew I was going to be sucked right in.
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.
I stayed up way too late trying to finish this book because I fell in love with all of the characters. Emma Lord has a way of sucking you into the lives of her characters that is truly impressive. She created a world I wanted to be part of (sign me up for that school—I’m going back to university). Though there were some serious themes that were explored, they felt realistic. I’m going to go back and make sure I add the rest of Lord’s books to my TBR pile.
What didn’t work for me
The naivety of the MC: The only thing that bothered me about this story is that the main character, Andie, is a little more naive than she needs to be to move the plot along. She uses her favourite snacks instead of swearing, like “Oh, Froot Loops,” which is just too much when you’re in college. She also is a bit clueless about her relationships—and has really messed up priorities—and though she doesn’t officially cheat, she doesn’t not cheat, and I wouldn’t say I liked that.
The YA-ness of the ending: I phrased it this way because this isn’t really Lord’s fault, but I don’t love that we have this whole story, a slow burn, leading up to these characters getting together (I don’t think that’s a spoiler) and we don’t really see them together much. I wish we could have seen Andie and Milo together a little more.
What I liked
Everything else: I love everything else about this book—the secondary characters are so much fun, including Milo’s family, Andie’s grandmothers and basically everyone at the school. The plot moves at a nice place, and there was a twist that I didn’t see coming that I enjoyed because I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t want to enter spoiler territory, so I will keep it at that. But I wish Bagelopolis was a real place because I would go there every day. I love a funky bagel.
If you enjoy Emma Lord’s books or college-aged YA, this one won’t disappoint you. If you’re on the fence about whether you can read YA as an adult, I recommend trying Begin Again because the characters are a bit older than they are typically in the genre. If you love some hidden Taylor Swift references (beyond just the title), you’ll have fun trying to find them throughout the story.
“Go make the most out of it, because every day is a chance to begin again,” —Emma Lord, Begin Again