Title: Begin Again
Author: Emma Lord
Audience: Young Adult
Narrator: Georgina Sadler
Length: 11 hr 51 min (352 pages)
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 24, 2023
Source: publisher via Netgalley
Recommended for fans of: bagels and sugar
Content Warnings: death of parent, grief, infidelity, toxic relationship, abandonment, cancer
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 adored this. I don’t read much YA contemporary anymore because I’m just no longer the audience, but Emma Lord are something magical. This is a beautiful, poignant, sweet, hilarious, fun, and tear-inducing coming-of-age story about very little going according to plan, yet ending up exactly where you’re meant to be.
This definitely made me nostalgic for my own college days, the newfound freedom, trying new things, making new friends, finding yourself, and living in the moment while planning for the rest of your life. The way this book portrays first love and first heartbreak, Andie’s efforts to live up to her mother’s legacy, and her hesitation to mend her relationship with her father brought all the tears. But there were plenty of things to smile and laugh about as well!
And the found family! Andie’s friends had such cool hobbies and interests (ahem, bookstagram and writing fantasy). And I absolutely swooned for the very slow building romance (note: while the romance is adorable, I would not classify Begin Again in the romance genre).
This is very much an Emma Lord book, meaning if you’ve loved her books in the past, you will love this, but if her previous books were not for you, this will probably not be for you either. But I am here for the frosting and sparkles and bagels and pop culture references and headstrong, naive characters who learn from their mistakes!
I highly recommend the audiobook for this one. Georgina Sadler did an incredible job bringing Andie and this story to life!
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted ARC and ALC.