ARC Review: Begin Again by Emma Lord

  • Title: Begin Again
  • Author: Emma Lord
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release Date: 1/24/23
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: 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. Filled with a friend group that feels like family, an empowering journey of finding your own way, and a Just Kiss Already! romance, Begin Again is an unforgettable novel of love and starting again.

I have loved all of Emma Lord’s novels. Her writing has an unrelenting energy and charisma that just flies off every page. She makes you feel like her main characters are speaking to you and like you are their close friend.

Begin Again feels darker than Lord’s other books. It prominently features grief over the death of a parent and the profound effect that can have on someone. All of her books feature difficult or strained familial relationships, but Begin Again addresses that with even more depth. Andie deals with her father leaving her to be raised by her grandmothers and Milo struggles with the aftermath of his girlfriend cheating on him with his brother.

In Begin Again, the reader is let into Andie’s deepest and most intimate thoughts. On the outside, Andie is an endlessly energetic person, who is determined to fix the problems of everyone around her. However, she shares her feelings about her difficult relationship with her dad and her desire to live up to her mom’s legacy with the reader. Even in these moments where we see her at her most raw, Andie radiates warmth and optimism. It feels impossible not to like her. I mean, how could you not love someone who uses her favorite foods to replace swear words?

From the beginning, it is clear that Milo and Andie have a special connection. They share an understanding of what it means to lose a parent too young, and Andie had previously struggled with feeling distanced from others by that grief. It is so clear how deeply they care about each other: Andie notes that she is always aware of where he is in a room; Milo is willing to brave thunder snow to save her. Andie also notes how comfortable Milo’s mom makes her, which is certainly important for someone who lost her mom young. I absolutely fell in love with both Milo and Andie and their relationship reading this book.

I love how important Platonic relationships are in Lord’s work as well. Andie builds a loving and supportive friend group at Blue Ridge that makes her feel safe and welcome in the new school. It would have been so easy for the story to be about Andie having a hard time finding her social footing as a transfer student, but she almost immediate finds a fiercely loyal friend in her roommate, Shay.

One of my favorite little easter eggs in Begin Again is that Andie and her dad go to Big League Burger, which was founded by the parents of Pepper in Lord’s first book (Tweet Cute). The Emma Lord literary universe does exist, and I will be looking out for any other crossovers.

Begin Again has endless heart and charm, and I would have expected nothing less from Lord. This book will make you laugh and will break you heart (but then put it back together again).


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