Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.
It’s 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”).
But 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.
Tell Me More: Not going to lie, this novel made me very nervous when I first heard about it. Comparisons to the stunning Anna and the French Kiss were drawn, and if you know me, you know that Anna is one of my top five favourite contemporary YA novels. You can’t tell me a book is similar to Anna without some serious evidence to back it up. Add in the fact that the main character is supposed to be a lit geek and takes a trip to London–Meant to Be was either going to be a novel I loved without restraint or one that wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The end result? A bit of both, actually.
Romance and swoon-y moments aside, the story was not that surprising. The writing style was exactly what I expected from YA romance, straightforward and fun, and it isn’t difficult to dive right into Julia’s world. She is one of the livelier YA protagonists I can remember, despite her shyness. Friends will laugh, but I was reminded very much of Makino Tsukushi from Hana Yori Dango. Both ladies are extremely smart, clever and resilient. These qualities kept Meant to Be from turning into a total cliché. Jason, on the other hand, didn’t really take my breath away, though he did have some good moments. Part of that was my own personal taste in boys–I’ve never been into class clowns, so like Julia, I found Jason frustrating most of the time.
Despite my initial misgivings, there were lots of scenes that overwhelmed me with cuteness. Jason and Julia bouncing around London is one of the things I enjoyed most about this novel, and Morrill’s light writing style fit really well with her characters’ voices. In the end, my favourite thing in Meant to Be was Julia’s unabashed geekiness. I could relate to her so easily, especially during the Stratford-upon-Avon scenes. Her nerdiness was the most endearing thing about her, and gave the story its most realistic dynamic.
The Final Say: Julia’s tenacity and enthusiasm for all things bookish made her one of my favourite contemporary heroines this year. Meant to Be is a definite must-read for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Melissa Jensen.