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“Begin Again” – Emma Lord

The wonderful Emma Lord is an American young adult, romance author. Her novels include “Tweet Cute”, Reece’s YA Book Club pick “You Have A Match”, “When You Get The Chance”, and most recently, “Begin Again”.

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Emily Henry, and Ali Hazelwood, “Begin Again” follows the empowering journey of finding your own way and starting again. Lead protagonist Andie Rose has a plan, as usual, to 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.

The moment Andie arrives, the rest of her plans go off the rails. 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.

Exclusively for QBD Blog readers, Emma tells us her inspiration behind “Begin Again.” Let’s dive in:

The inspiration for Begin Again really came years ago, when I transferred colleges in the middle of my sophomore year. I loved my new school but the culture shift was enormous — I was suddenly dropkicked into this very traditional, academically rigorous institution were everybody already knew each other, bonded by dorms I’d never seen and parties I’d never heard of and a student life so vast it was hard to fathom. It was the scariest, most fun, challenging semester of my life, and I always tucked it in my heart as one of those experiences that really shaped me. It’s this constant reminder when I don’t know or like the way things in my life are headed that I have the power to change that, because when it came down to it, being able to thrive there came down to my own willingness both to look inside myself for answers, and reach out to find a solid group of friends who supported each other through it.

 

I’ve needed that toolbox a lot in adulthood — I moved around a LOT before settling in New York — but everyone has needed it throughout the pandemic, after we were all quite suddenly pulled from our usual social circles and activities and trying to find new rhythms as we keep adjusting with each phase of it. I think that’s where the idea for this initial came from. I was back in that mindset again of How do I make these new versions of life work for me? and the answer was the same as it’s always been: staying connected with the people you love. Of course the changes that Andie, the main character of Begin Again, goes through by transferring college midyear were a manageable, fun kind of change, but it gave me a way to channel the love and gratitude I have for the humans in my life not just during times of great change, but all the happy, ridiculous, memory-making times in between.

The other inspiration for the book was much simpler — I love reading books where the protagonists are navigating their late teens and early twenties, and it was a blast to finally get to write my own! For me those years were the ones I did so much more of carving out my identity and going through the motions of “coming of age.” It was also just a testament to some of the fun hijinks and delicious bagels and tight friendships that I feel so lucky to have experienced throughout that time, so I hope that energy gets captured for readers — the exciting potential of knowing your future is wide open, while enjoying the chaos of your present.


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