The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord
Release date: January 7, 2020
An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Children's Books in exchange for an honest review.
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?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: For the most part, Emery Lord's books are very teenager-y. The main characters have jobs. They care about friendships, worry about crushes, and think about the future (some more than others).
A lot of YA books set during senior year don't actually focus on senior year. This one does, from Paige's changing extracurriculars, to her and her friends' college applications and worries, to her part-time job. I also liked that we got a bit more background on Kayleigh and Tessa, two of Paige's best friends. Some phrasing for their plots (mainly how they were introduced) felt a bit shoehorned in, but the characters felt more fleshed-out, so yay! Also I really appreciated how Emery tackled anxiety with Paige. There's plenty of anxiety about college and her new relationship, and both those situations play out in ways that sort of work but on the anxiety side of things, there are some good results.
The problem with sequels is that often romantic relationships from the first book have to be torn up and go through conflict, and I did not want to see major drama for Paige and Max. They are one of my favorite YA ships, but I didn't feel the same way about them in The Map from Here to There. They kept growing apart and not talking to each other about things, and I really hate communications issues causing drama. Then certain things resulted in jealousy, and they were separate for most of the second half of the book, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth.
The writing was familiar and endearing though. Emery Lord's best books have a voice running through each of them, and you feel comfortable with how she tells a story. But the ending definitely lacked something and arrived way too soon with the pacing of the rest of the book. I hate endings that feel rushed.
Content warnings: anxiety, underage drinking, foul language
The Verdict: Not quite what I wanted from a sequel to one of my favorite books of all time.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Yes.