“When we collided, we bounced each other back into orbit.” I’ve been staring at this line while my sniffing was the soundtrack to the moment. It pretty sums up When We Collided (by Emery Lord). If you’re a fan of TFIOS and Eleanor & Park, then you’ll love this book – prepare for the feels.
When We Collided alternates between Vivi Alexander and Jonah Daniels. Both of them have deep stories. Vivi has bipolar disorder but takes a positive outlook and lives life to the fullest. Jonah is recovering from his father’s death and taking care of his siblings while his mother has isolated herself. When he meets Vivi, his world starts to change. She sparks life and happiness back into him and his family. But soon things start to spiral down as Vivi becomes out of control and meets consequences. Their relationship starts to shake…
It took me a while to start writing this review because so much of When We Collided is relatable and effected me since I have anxiety. High school, basically my whole adolescence, was a nightmare. It effected my friendships, communication skills, grades and performance to the point that I dropped out to continue my senior years at another institution that allowed more space and time for me. But the anxiety didn’t stop. It wasn’t until I started uni that I started to feel better, but I still feel anxious. I still hate calling, afraid of creating dead air. Even talking to a cashier and ordering something can stifle my breathing. Even writing about this is making me anxious.
Vivi and Jonah both struggle but they try to cope, to not fall apart in front of everyone. They want to be normal or more than fine. I’m coping by telling myself that I’m brave and it’s going to be a good day, and don’t back down if rejection or bad news come my way. I liked how the book took mental health seriously and realistically. There are moments when the characters brush off their real situation like it’s nothing. Understandable. Hiding their problems because of what would society think? And society still has this revulsion on mental health and displaying emotions – people still cringe at the notion of crying. I’m glad that Jonah’s grief isn’t overlooked. Guys can be emotional and go through trauma too and it’s not a weakness.
Talking to someone can be difficult as portrayed in the book. It’s easier said than done. I found it hard to tell someone about my issue and let it overcome me until I was a depressing mess. It took a while to heal. It was internet (Twitter) friends, people from my fandoms – open-minded and eccentric members, and of course my best friend and friends from uni and my family who helped me through. And yes, my family were sort of hard on me but they started becoming more understanding, some were dismissive, some listened and gave advice, some listened and walked away. I noted that a lot of people, friends, walked away once they knew that I hadn’t changed…within a few months. It always made me question: what’s wrong with me? Why do people always leave me? Is it because I’m quiet? Scared of voicing my own thoughts? Insecure? And it’s so easy to believe the negative reasons and accepting that they define you. Every now and then, those questions still hit me.
When We Collided got me thinking that people on the outside most likely don’t know what’s going on in your head, but they assume things so fast like a quiet person is aloof, antisocial, arrogant and “weird”. How do they know? And when they ask, they tend to have a condescending tone. They don’t realise that talkative and happy or “normal” people can be the saddest or cruelest people on earth. It’s something that frustrates me. I get Vivi not taking her pills and being ashamed of what she has, and what bipolar can do to her and those around her. But I love how she fights it.
Vivi and Jonah grow to deal with their issues maturely. So I’m not mad at how the book ended – it’s not a closed one anyway. While they’re a couple, you can feel a sense of friendship between them. It isn’t only their love for each other that changes and helps them, but understanding and not completely pushing each other into uncomfortable territory or change each other’s personalities/lifestyles. I’ve come across moments of being pushed into nightmarish situations like people pressuring me to say something. Instead of giving encouragement and being patient.
Anyway, the book is well-written. There’s something raw about the language that pulls me in but it’s also confronting at times. The characters are well developed even the minor ones. There’s a reason why a character behaves a certain way and you can feel their experiences radiating around them. They’re also put up a shield so others won’t see through them.
Thank you Emery for writing this book. A book that shows me that I’m not alone when it comes to the internal and just because we have issues, it doesn’t mean the end or that that issue defines you.
Rating: 4 and a half/5