Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Released: April 15 2014 by Walker Books
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★

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Two best friends…
             Two broken hearts….
                     One summer that will change everything…

Reagan O’Neill and Dee Montgomery are more like sisters than best friends. It’s a bond that can’t be broken, even by Dee’s fame and fortune as a country music superstar.

When Reagan breaks up with her bad-news boyfriend and Dee gets dumped by her high school sweetheart, even the sweetest country ballad can’t heal their broken hearts, and that’s where friends come in. Dee’s twenty-four-city tour is the perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer that will kick off the dust of any relationship gone bad.

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm completely throws off Reagan’s plan for a drama-free existence. With miles to go before Reagan and Dee are ready to risk their hearts again, this summer will be one to remember…

I will admit that I am the kind of person who will pick up a hyped book just to see what the fuss is about. I hadn’t read many reviews about Open Road Summer, but I was seeing it being recommended many times, so I got myself a copy figuring it would be the perfect book to end the summer with. But, oh boy, I really fell for the hype with this one, and I was left feeling a bit… bleh.
Open Road Summer is the story of Reagan O’Neill (who I originally thought had the same name as the kid from The Exorcist, but doesn’t), who is accompanying her country superstar best friend, Dee, on her country-wide tour. However, a media scandal breaks out and Dee’s management decides to bring comeback kid Matt Finch onto the tour to quiet down any rumours. My main problem with Open Road Summer‘s story is that I wasn’t expecting this to be a full-blown romance story. I originally read the blurb and thought ‘great, a story about two best friends’, but then got a big shock when I could hardly get any friendship vibes. I would have much rather read about Reagan’s relationship with Dee than the weird one she has with Matt. And that’s another thing: I thought the romance was strange. Reagan and Matt go from awkward one-sided flirting, to flirting with each other, to bickering, and then being with each other but not using the words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’. I’m not an expert on relationships, but if someone kissed me while I was arguing with them, I’d punch them. If Dee had more of a presence, I probably would have enjoyed the story more. Probably.
My biggest issue with Open Road Summer is definitely Reagan. I haven’t disliked a main character so much in a long time. Reagan is written as a stereotypical ‘bad girl’: her mum ran away when she was a kid, her dad’s a recovering alcoholic, and she has a criminal record at the age of seventeen. This is mentioned so many time that every time she started talking about her past, Everclear’s Volvo Driving Soccer Mom started playing in my head. It got to the point that I just didn’t care anymore. Not only that, but Reagan has a sucky personality. She’s paranoid, she’d kind of arrogant, she’s ridiculously jealous, and to me, she seemed like a bit of a slut shamer. Every time there are girls are Matt’s sets, or even just talking to him, she comments on their appearances, i.e. their clothes and how Matt can probably see down their shirts. Now, there’s something to bear in mind: Reagan’s wardrobe consists of tight clothes, short skirts, push-up bras, and high heels. so I have no idea where she gets the nerve to judge other girls based on their clothing choices, when she regularly dresses in her ‘bad girl’ attire. If I ever met this girl, I would easily out-bitch her because she is just so petty. I know I said I would prefer there to be more of Dee, but she really is a bit bland. All I got of her is that she’s wholesome and polite (kind of like early Taylor Swift without the slut shaming), but that’s pretty much it. She really needed to be fleshed out more because she’s just as important as Reagan and Matt.
Open Road Summer is written in Reagan’s point of view, and I honestly would have preferred a third person narration here. The fact that I didn’t like her as a character made reading this feel long and tedious; I was even flicking through pages to see how much I had left to go. I managed to finish this book in three days, but that’s mainly because I almost had to force myself to get through it; it wasn’t at DNF level, but reading was still a pretty tedious task.
I was really disappointed by Open Road Summer. I wasn’t too blown away by the plot, and I couldn’t stand Reagan and her constant reminding of the fact that she’s a changed person. I might have liked this book when I was younger, but with the mindset I have now, it’s just not doing anything for me.

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