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.
Expected Publication: January 24, 2023 by Wednesday Books – Happy Release Date!! 🥳
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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.
CW’s: Discussion of Grief, Parental Death & Cheating
Representation 🌷 Grief
Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! The quotes are taken from the Arc and are subject to changes!
This is Emma Lord’s best book to date! I have enjoyed almost all of her YA Contemporaries but Begin Again takes the first place. It was so much fun to read and I loved that it was set in college! I’m always looking for more stories with this setting and it was so well done here. Blue Ridge State felt very real and vivid to me as a setting. I felt like we really got to know the college community (including Andi’s dorm) and were fully immersed in the location. A big part of the story is the secret radio show in which ‘The Knight’ discusses college life and problems that need to be tackled. Since Andi’s mom created it, it’s very dear to her heart and one of the reasons, she was so set on transferring to Blue Ridge. I loved the idea of the radio show and how Andi got involved with it, but also had her insecurities about being On Air!
Meet Andi: Psychology Major, also known as The Fixer! Andi Rose is a dedicated planner and has her life plan laid out already. She’s invested in psychology and giving advice to others like she did with her high school column. Her end goal is to become an important personality so she can publish her self-help book and memoir when it’s time. I loved that Andi had so many ambitions and was passionate about her goals, even though she’d go overboard and put too much pressure on herself. She’s caring and bubbly, so I loved that she got so involved in college life. She’s set on joining the secret societies that her parents used to be a part of and also helps her dormmates get closer! Andi is also a dedicated Fixer, meaning that she takes on other people’s problems and tries to solve them. It explains why she loves giving advice, but there’s also a deeper reason for her always trying to prove herself useful to others. Her mother’s death when she was still a kid weighs on her, even after many years. I loved how the narrative examined her need to always fix things for others and the deep scars her losses have caused her.
** The only thing that annoyed me about Andi was that she uses food instead of swear words because one of her grandmothers hates swearing. I hate when authors do that, as it’s meant to be cute, but comes across as annoying. I wish Andi had stuck to just one food word, but she switches it up every. single. time with one of her favorite foods 🙈
I will always need her, I realize. I will need the memories of the way she loved me; how in moments like this, I can feel that love still. But I don’t need her footsteps. I don’t need her path to lead the way. I slide the compass into my, knowing wherever it takes me, the paths will be all my own.
I loved the strong friendships and family dynamics we got to see here! Andi immediately hits it off with her roommate Shay, a huge bookworm and successful bookstagram creator, who struggles with finding a major that fits her. I loved their emerging friendship as they were so supportive of each other and Andi tries to help her with her major without crossing her boundaries. I personally found Shay super relatable, as she loves books and isn’t too sure what her future should look like outside of that. Andi also befriends Val, a Math major who helps tutor her in statistics, a class she’s really struggling with. Val is a talented writer in her free time, yet too shy to actually share her work with anyone, especially as she’s stuck with writer’s block. I loved the found family vibes and how the friendship dynamics were so important here. Another subplot is also Andi’s complicated relationship with her father. She was raised by her grandmothers who are super cool, yet she still felt abandoned by her Dad. He moved away for work and couldn’t deal with the loss of his wife, so Andi feels like she lost both her parents. Their difficult history was well explored here and I loved how they tried to reconnect!
“What are you doing at three P.M. tomorrow?” “Staring into a metaphysical pit and questioning every math-related life choice I’ve ever made?”
The actual romance was very slow burn, but I couldn’t help but like Milo!! I’ll discuss my only problem with the book in the next point, but I couldn’t help but love Milo. He’s the RA (= Resident Assistant, aka a student in charge of the Dorm) of Andi’s dorm. Their dynamic is pretty much grumpy and sunshine, as Milo loves his coffee and is perpetually tired and done with everything. Yet you can tell that he cares deeply about his community and friends, as he tries his best to help them. His banter and emerging friendship with Andi were super sweet, especially as they form a found family with Shay and Val. I also liked getting to know his family issues and grief, as it connected him to Andi. Their relationship is very slowburn, but I liked how it turned out!
I turn back to her, smug. “See? He’s [Milo] got your back.” Shay raises her eyebrows. “I sincerely doubt he is doing this for me.”
The only thing I was apprehensive about is that Andi starts out the book with a boyfriend. I usually hate when this happens, as you know the main romance is a different one and at one point there will be emotional and actual cheating. Surprisingly, Emma Lord managed to execute this better than I’ve seen anyone else do! [spoiler: The actual romance is – as mentioned – slowburn and only fully takes off once Andi breaks up with Connor. I wish she’d broken up with him at least halfway through the book, as it was so clear to me that things weren’t working out with Connor.] Since Andi’s boyfriend Connor switched back to her community college, while she transferred to Blue Ridge, they are now still at different schools. Things have been tense between them, but Andi is set on fixing their relationship, as this is what she does best. Connor was there for her after her mother’s death and continued to include her while everyone else withdrew. So I understood why she was still hung up on him, as they’d also been friends for ages. The book takes on her emerging frustration with Connor, even though she tries to play it off. Yet, it’s clear that they are growing apart, no matter how much Andi tries to hold on to them. It doesn’t help that Connor is very entitled and privileged, so he takes Andi for granted and doesn’t understand that she doesn’t have the same advantages as him. [spoiler: In the end, it also turns out that he’s a cheater as well and clearly expects to get away with it because he usually gets bailed out by someone and never faced consequences before. I’m glad Andi ended it with him, though I feel like she could have been even harsher with him, given that he tried to find ways to blame her for his cheating by bringing in Milo.]
“Listen, I appreciate this,” says Shay, trying to hand me back the sketchpad. “But the problem is, all I really want to do is read.”
IN CONCLUSION. ➽ Begin Again is a great contemporary set at college all about finding yourself! I loved the focus on friendships and family dynamics, especially as the secondary cast was so lovable 🥰 The romance was a grumpy and sunshine pairing with a lot of slowburn and pining!
Are you going to read Begin Again? What is your favorite contemporary set at college? 📻
2 thoughts on “Arc Review: Begin Again by Emma Lord 📻 College, Radio Shows & Finding Yourself”
Great review! I’ve been seeing a lot of great things about this book and although I still haven’t read anything by Emma Lord, I’m gonna add this to my TBR anyway. It sounds like the type of coming-of-age stories I love 😍
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Thank you, Dini! Emma Lord writes great YA contemporary books 🥰 Begin Again has to be my favorite, because I loved the character growth and college setting – I hope you enjoy it as well 😊