MEANT TO BE
Contemporary Young Adult
Available November 13th
Received from publisher via NetGalley for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.
one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and
quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia
may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being
prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a
pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's
chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").
this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT
word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal
nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild
party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown
number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious
new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus
begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and
closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.
Meant to Be is a story we pick up knowing exactly how things are going to play out between the characters in the end, but it is that very predictability that draws us to it in the first place. Julia’s story is safe; one with a familiar plot arc we know is going to increase the number of laugh lines around our eyes and cause our cheeks to start twitching thanks to the permanent grin splitting them for the duration of our reading experience. It’s the perfect comfort read, with humor ever-present as a result of Julia’s various ineptitudes and Jason’s outrageous attention-garnering behavior, and while we can’t help but sit back and shake our heads at Julia’s obliviousness to the nature of Jason’s outlandish antics, we’re also able to understand that our view from the outside looking in is unimpeded by the confusion and warring emotions clouding Julia’s vision.
Julia is an adorable klutz of a heroine, her social butterfly’s wings so underused they’ve begun to atrophy, leaving her often clueless and floundering when she’s forced to interact with those around her. Her romantic idealism is endearing, the concept of a “meant to be” and her unwavering belief in a perfect relationship consisting of only love and laughter perhaps a bit naïve, however, it’s easy to get swept up in her search for a dream when it’s so glaringly apparent how desperately she wants to turn the ethereal and intangible into something she can physically wrap her arms around. Sometimes the death grip she maintains on her notion of perfection can wear on us a bit, particularly when we she remains stubbornly blind to what Jason is practically screaming at her with his body language, and she allows herself to be highly susceptible to suggestion–often believing things without much prompting and suddenly finding herself jumping to the wrong conclusions. Despite her flaws though, she’s charming and lovable, and by the end we want nothing more than for her to find that elusive happiness.
Jason is a character who based on the synopsis we think might easily get on our nerves, his over-the-top behavior something that has the potential to test our patience after only a short time, but because it’s so obvious to us what he’s trying to accomplish with Julia, we instead find ourselves encouraging his each and every move. Because Julia’s nose is almost permanently stuck in one of her many guide books to the wonders of London, we more than understand why Jason feels the need to up the ante whenever he’s dealing with her. His desire for her to actually see him rather than simply notice him is something we can practically reach out and touch, and the weight of his disappointment when she misinterprets the situation or disregards him in general is crushing, our stomachs plummeting every time he shuts down before gearing back up to try and break through her fairy tale fog in the hopes that, this time, her heart will see what her eyes so clearly do not.
Overall, Meant to Be is a joy to read, a light story full of humor and misunderstandings that leaves us with a broad smile just as we knew it would when we first cracked the spine.