ARC Review: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Title: The Map From Here to There
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Published January 2020

Summary: It's senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing "the rest of her life," Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be--how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

I received an advanced copy of The Map From Here To There at BookExpo 2019, and I loved a lot of Emery Lord's other books in the past, so I was really excited to start this one. I ended up meeting tons of great people on the line while waiting for the ARC, and after a busy summer and fall semester at school, I finally managed to find the time to read it and write my review! So without further ado, here's my review:

As the summary explains, Paige is trying to balance her senior year of high school, college applications, friends, a year of lasts, and also her new boyfriend, Max. In the beginning, since she's a serial planner (much like myself!), she expects it to be easy -- or at least, not as difficult as it actually ends up being. And she always had big dreams of leaving Indiana and having a big, exciting life in New York City -- until suddenly, as the deadlines loom closer, she finds herself having second thoughts. This book is full of that anxiety and nostalgia and desperate hope for things to stay the same that many college seniors, including myself, have experienced, and it makes for a great story.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book. Like I said, those worries were all things that I remember feeling well when I was a senior in high school -- I'm even feeling these same things as a senior in college! I think it's just a normal thing when you have to plan out the next stage in your life. So Emery Lord translated that feeling of nervousness, anxiety, and uncertainty really well -- I definitely really resonated with it. The story itself was also really heartwarming, and I loved seeing Paige's friendship with all of her besties. This entire book was basically a trip down memory lane for me, because while the experiences may not necessarily be the same, the emotions were all still there, and it felt like a trip down memory lane!

One thing that I hadn't anticipated about this book actually ended up being an oversight on my part -- I didn't realize that this was a sequel, and I hadn't read The Start of Me and You before this! However, the good news was that this didn't really take away anything from my reading experience at all -- there were some allusions to things that happened in the previous book, and brief recaps were given, but I didn't feel lost or confused. This book seems to focus more on Paige's relationship with Max and all of the preparation of leaving for college, with the past just interspersing in brief snippets. This book can definitely stand on its own, in my opinion, as more of a companion than as an actual sequel.

One other thing that I wasn't super crazy about in this book was the relationship between Max and Paige themselves, even though I'm aware that this is really just my personal preference. Like I just said, I didn't read the first book, so I wasn't quite sure of all of their history, but their relationship felt more awkward and more like friendship than an actual relationship. That being said, I'm sure that plenty of high school relationships begin that way -- goodness, so did mine! -- but as the book went on, I felt myself not really feeling like Paige and Max were a good match. In my opinion, there were definitely other characters (who I shall not name!) that she definitely would've been better with. But again, that's just my own personal opinion!

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Map From Here to There. The story probably would've had more layering and backstory to it if I had read The Start of Me and You first, but this book was still a cohesive story in and of itself that I enjoyed following. Even though it's a larger book, it made for a pretty quick read when I sat down and let myself sink into the story. If you're looking for another contemporary to add to your shelves, then I'd certainly recommend picking up this one!


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