Open Road Summer

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Open Road Summer Book Poster Image
Sweet tale of love and friendship on the road to stardom.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn how the publicity machine behind a major star works and about the legal system for minors.

Positive Messages

Friendship is about love and loyalty, through good times and bad. Share your feelings with those closest to you. Trust yourself and other people, despite past hardships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Friends look out for each other and tell each other the truth, even when it's hard. All the parents have the kids' best interests at heart, even if the kids don't realize it right away. A character is cared for often by a friend's parents. A few of the teen characters have strong moral compasses.

Violence

One character is hit in a domestic violence incident, resulting in bruising and a broken bone.

Sex

There are descriptions of couples making out, as well as first-person descriptions of kissing and a heavy make-out session. Passing references to previous sexual experiences. A character walks in on a couple having sex.

Language

"S--t," "bulls--t," "d--k," "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "skank," "slut," "crappy," "hell," "God," "pissy," "damn," and "whoring."

Consumerism

J. Crew, Cheetos, Raisinets, Twizzlers, Coke, Canon Rebel camera, Diana camera.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage teens go to a bar with fake IDs. Characters drink and smoke a little. Character gets drunk after unknowingly being given alcohol. There are references to past drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Open Road Summer is about a squeaky-clean teenage country music star, Lilah Montgomery, and her troubled best friend, Reagan O'Neill. When both girls get their hearts broken, Reagan decides to join Lilah on her first headlining tour. The two teens spend the summer on the road, traveling across America, having fun, examining their friendship, fighting the tabloids, and figuring out love. Teens sneak out and drink a little. There's kissing and heavy make-out sessions, and there are references to past questionable behavior that include drinking and sex. Characters use some profanity, but sparingly, such as "s--t" "and "a--hole."

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What's the story?

Troubled teen Reagan O'Neill is reeling from the latest result of a series of bad decisions and rebellions during the past few years. Her best friend, burgeoning country music superstar Lilah Montgomery -- known as Dee to those closest to her -- has her heart broken just as she's embarking on her first headlining U.S. tour. Reagan and Dee decide they need each other more than ever, and Reagan hits the road with the tour. Dee is dealing with the downside of her skyrocketing fame, including tabloid headlines and long periods away from her family. Reagan is working hard at making better decisions in the way she lives her life. She's also confronting a past that includes being abandoned by her mother and living with her alcoholic father in the aftermath. Romance is the last thing Reagan's looking for, but, when she finds it on the road, she needs to reconcile her past decisions with how to move forward and love again.

Is it any good?

OPEN ROAD SUMMER is an enjoyable read about friendship and romance. Reagan and Dee have a strong friendship. They both are going through some typical teen issues, such as testing limits and learning about love, but in an exponential way, which gives the story its excitement. Reagan's character development is good. She's created a tough shell as a way of dealing with her troubled upbringing, but she learns to trust her instincts and open up to other people. She doesn't lose her edge along the way, which is good because her attitude makes her a fun character. Dee's character could have been the one-dimensional Taylor Swift knockoff she seems to be at the outset, but author Emery Lord gives the reader Dee as a fully fleshed-out teen skyrocketing into stardom and struggling to hold on to the things she cares about most in her life.

The reader gets a good glimpse of the downside of stardom, especially in terms of tabloid scandals and record execs micromanaging a star's life. Even though the characters are well drawn, the plot itself is somewhat predictable, especially when the story deals with the girls' past and possible future romances.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about trusting your gut when making decisions. Do you ever choose to do something even though deep down you know you shouldn't? What have you learned from these experiences?

  • Tabloids and entertainment television often whip up scandal around celebrities to pull in readers and viewers, sometimes peddling lies. Have you ever bought into celebrity gossip, even though you have no way of knowing the real story? Do you ever imagine what it would be like to have your life judged by strangers?

  • Do you have ways of creatively expressing yourself when working through problems? If not, how do you process things that are on your mind?

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