I didn’t want to like this book. It’s set in California and I adore the East Coast. It’s contemporary and I love a little fantasy, and there is absolutely no diversity (well, there is an Asian cop). Still, it didn’t stink.  When We Collided by Emery Lord is a contemporary romance novel set in a seaside town on the West Coast. It follows Vivi and Jonah. Vivi is blonde, vivacious and in love with the universe and all of its possibilities. The true daughter of an artist she follows her whims and paints her frustrations. Jonah is the son of depressed mother and the responsible brother of five siblings. He’s wilting under the weight of the burden of caring for his young brothers and sisters after his father dies suddenly and his mother retreats into her depression.

Vivi has an effervescence that Jonah is drawn to and at first glance she seems like the manic pixie dream girl that will swoop into his life and save everything, and she does, but neither of them come out of it unscathed. From the first chapter we know that something dark lies in Vivi’s past. We also know that she’s taking meds that she’s flicking into the ocean at every turn. Eventually, all of this must come out and the anticipation of it is thick. Mixed with that is the budding romance between Vivi and Jonah. It’s sweet and new and sometimes awkward, though Vivi seems to be driving the momentum of the thing, but what’s so refreshing about the story is *spoiler alert* it doesn’t work out in the end. They love each other, but they both have things that just need to be worked out separately. We see that there is a solidness in Jonah that roots him to his father’s restaurant and responsibilities that will turn him into a family man and with all of her love for children, Vivi is not the maternal type. She’s too mercurial. We do see a foreshadowing of a relationship for Jonah that might work, but it’s just not the time for it. Isn’t that delicious.

Too often romances are played as train wrecks or forever matches. Sometimes it just won’t work out because it’s not meant to. It’s great!

The book also does a good job of illustrating Vivi’s descent into a manic episode. We as readers see where she’s going, but she doesn’t and it doesn’t feel exploitative. It’s a sensitive portrayal that gives a fuller picture of what someone might be going through while in an episode and how motivation and desire and action don’t always align with people with mental illness. Though, I haven’t dealt with this particular issue so someone who has the disorder may be able to give better insight.

This book is perfect for:

  • People who love thoughtful romance
  • Anyone who wants a kind and sympathetic portrayal of bipolar disorder
  • People who like books from dual perspectives

If you like this then try:

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

While Collided is contemporary romance and Bone Gap is magical realism, I think the quiet pace and heartfelt romance that’s found in both will appeal to people who read one or the other. Bone is set in rural farmland and our protagonist also has a condition that prevents him from being self-reflective, but in this world there is a supernatural element that adds spice to the story.


Collided is in a seaside town on the West Coast and all of Lana’s music feels like it’s being played from a portable radio on the deck of a lifeguard station. They’re a perfect match.

Lana Del Rey

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