Everyone is broken in some way. It’s what makes us human. Vivi and Jonah are no exception. They are both broken, yet they are in love—they are colliding planets, specks of sand on this place we call Earth. They meet at a local pottery shop where Jonah has taken his littlest sister, Leah, to create her own piece of art. This is just the beginning.
Jonah suffers from intense grief after the sudden death of his father (a local restaurant owner), which manifests itself through his own gift of cooking. He’s taking it one day—sometimes one hour—at a time. Vivi has a zest for life and a hatred of life, sometimes simultaneously. She’s battling her own demons, including an absent father and an unconventional mother.
Nonetheless, Vivi and Jonah give each other what they didn’t know they needed, before they knew they needed it. This is an atypical love story, one where the ending doesn’t mean it’s over. When We Collided boils down to feelings: strong feelings, flat feelings, non-feelings and all of the feelings in between. It explores identity and individuality, what makes us human and flawed.
Mental illness is a growing, trending topic in YA lit, but the latest novel from Emery Lord stands apart. It doesn’t focus on recovery or diagnosis, but rather on endurance, on how living with a mental illness affects that person as well as the people who surround them. With Vivi, Lord taps into the mind of a teenager unsuccessfully dealing with bipolar disorder, who is pro-medication, pro-therapy, pro-whatever-it-takes to live with the illness, rather than battle against it. Jonah’s grief and his mother’s depression are sensitively addressed, as is Vivi’s attempts to help, inviting herself into their family at a time when they thought the darkness was inescapable.
Where We Collided digs its claws in, leaves readers gasping for air and likely speechless and in tears. Lord sensitively and adequately explores how happiness is a puzzle that we work toward completing, with each person’s pieces being different, but all creating a beautiful work of the art we call life.