I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
I think I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I really liked that Vivi was representing a mental illness that isn’t usually talked about, and Jonah was a sort of child carer, but I’m not a fan of needing romance to accept yourself and Vivi was the essence of a panic mixie dream girl.
C H A R A C T E R S
Vivi: Had just moved into town and has already fallen in love with it. She has a thing about transience so writes Vivi was here all over the place. She believes in past lives/ reincarnation, and wears a lot of vintage outfits. She’s creative and most importantly kind to those that need kindness in their lives.
Vivi is also the kind of girl to keep her secrets close to her heart, and takes whatever she wants if it will make her happy. I really loved her spirit, she was a bright and fun-loving character, but she also has a dark side. I really enjoyed the slow reveal of her backstory and you could definitely see a change in her behaviour as the time she stopped taking her pills grew and grew. That’s only really something you can appreciate upon finishing the book.
Jonah: was a cinnamon roll too good for this world. He looks after his family after his father died and his mother keeps herself shut up in her room in mourning. The family is divided into the three older siblings who do the majority of the work and the three younger siblings, Leah being the most focused on. Jonah wants to be a chef, is extremely loyal, and always looks out for others, but he gets easily overwhelmed and is a bit of a worrier.
When We Collided is told through both of the perspectives which is where you really get to see how they are perfect for each other AND how they just do not fit AT ALL. I’d say that my main problem with this book was the romance in general.
R O M A N C E
At first I though it was just going to be an average contemporary. Boy likes girl doesn’t think she likes him back. Girl likes boy but doesn’t think he likes her back. And it was angsty in this sense for a little bit, but then you learn more about Vivi and Jonah’s home lives and suddenly their lack of communication isn’t just because they’re new to each other, but it’s down right unhealthy.
I felt like Jonah had to keep convincing himself that he loved Vivi, that he was okay with her extravagances and whirlwind personality. He’s always say things like “how am I supposed to keep up?” or “What do I say to that?” And I could never be sure that he genuinely liked these things about her.
Also, Vivi made a point of saying that she fell in love with Jonah’s family (as well as him) so I think she didn’t love him as much as loved the idea of him, thinking that by loving such a steady kind guy she could make up for her mysterious backstory full of troubles.
They were also quite petty and jealous with each other sometimes, but instead of talking through their problems they have sex and act like it never happened. Vivi could be quite manipulative in this way. She would have a lot of demands for Jonah and dare him to do things that he wasn’t comfortable with. I wish their relationship hadn’t been so give-and-take and she’d just accepted him as he was. I was really anxious when Jonah’s childhood friend Ellie was introduced to the story, knowing how Vivi would probably not be able to take the idea of sharing.
However, there were moments when they’re relationship was sweet and endearing. They would comfort each other and sometimes it seemed like they really understood each other. What neither or them really understood was that they didn’t need to be together to be together. I think I would have loved this story a lot more if they’d just had a really close friendship, where they listened to each other’s problems and helped each other understand what was happening in their lives and how they could make positive changes. It’s more of a pragmatic approach than a romantic one, that I’m suggesting, but I think it would send a really important message to people with mental health issues or family troubles that you don’t need to have a significant other to get support.
I think including romance in a book about mental health is always going to make me feel a bit skeptical and on-edge, especially when for all intents and purposes Vivi was a manic-pixie dream girl on a mission to be elusive and save her boyfriend’s home life.
P L O T A N D P A C I N G
This is a slow paced book, there’s no question about it. 25% through and they’re all ready a couple, what the heck could happen next. There were quite a few dull moments and I found I really had to push myself to continue. When things started to be revealed about Vivi’s character later on in the novel I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what was going to happen to her. I wasn’t invested in the characters as a couple at all, but as individuals I really cared for their story.
Suffice to say it probably could have been a shorter book, but it was lovely to read something what was so character based. There were a few things that I wished were missing, like a reunion (or at least something) with Ruby and Vivi’s life before she got to Verona Cove, and a few things I thought unnecessary like Vivi’s spur of the moment hunt for her dad.
V E R D I C T
If you liked My Life Next Door then you will definitely enjoy this novel. Also, if you’re interested in bipolar disorder and young carers then this is the book for you too! Overall I only gave When We Collided 3 stars because I never though the pair worked as a couple and the pace could have been faster. However, I’m still interested in this author and will give her other works a go!