Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Random House on November 13th 2012
Also by this author: It's Kind of a Cheesy Love Story, Sister of the Bride
Format: Paperback (292 pages) • Source: Gift
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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.
I’m truly not sure how this book ever managed to slip past my radar. Morgan, my amazing Broke & Bookish Secret Santa, gifted this one to me with the recommendation that it was one of her favorites. It wasn’t on my wishlist but she had a feeling I’d like it. AND THIS, people, is why recs are the best.
I knew from the literal first paragraph that this was going to be a “me” book.
There are certain things in life that just suck. Pouring a big bowl of Lucky Charms before realizing the milk is expired, the word ‘moist,’ falling face-first into the salad bar in front of the entire lacrosse team…
Now I will be honest, books with characters who are overly clumsy usually kind of annoy me. Like really, you couldn’t come up with anything better to describe this girl? You’re just gonna have her fall into things all the time? Well, in this book it just worked. It was a part of her charm, but Julia was characterized so much MORE than just being a klutz. She was a book nerd, super smart, funny, snarky… everything I want in a character. I actually saw a lot of myself in her.
I want to roll my eyes, but I’m pretty soon they’re going to get stuck in the back of my head, and penis puns are really not worth my permanent facial damage.
Let’s talk about the romance though. *happy sigh* I will read hate-to-love romances until the day I die. Julia is partnered with the seemingly annoying class clown, Jason, while touring London. They have the best banterfluff (coined by Debby) ever. They make each other laugh, get angry, and have the best snarky conversations. The book could have been just the two of them chit-chatting and I would have given it five stars. Seriously, read Debby’s post and you’ll understand exactly what I mean. In order to have a successful fluff book, you need a certain level of (a) humor and (b) snark. Jason and Julie really nailed both aspects. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit throughout this book and I’m disappointed I didn’t write more quotes down to share. The situations they got in, the conversations they had… damn. Just, damn.
Point is, maybe some people wouldn’t want to be around me all day, but there are people out there who would. And they’re smart and funny. And they like some of the same things I like and hate some of the things I hate, but they also introduce me to all kinds of new things. That’s as close to ‘meant to be’ as I can imagine.
I think that parts of the book towards the middle-end kind of bugged me A LITTLE. It felt slightly immature. Julie bugged me for like a chapter or two, but I got over it. Sometimes that just happens in books about high schoolers when I’m 23 years old. IT’S FINEEE. It’s really not enough for me to knock any major points away, especially because…
THE ENDING. I thought I had the whole thing figured out and I was wrong. It’s always nice when a contemporary can actually surprise you. It wasn’t just a predictable YA like I thought! The whole book Julia and Jason are chasing after this Chris person that keeps texting her, from the first night they end up at a party. The whole book is kind of leading you to believe that there’s some more to that story that meets the eye, and then you think you’ve figured it out. Well, you didn’t. It’s a perfect adorable twist that could not have been done better.
But things work out, you know? Even if it doesn’t feel okay for a long time, or even if it feels lke things will never be okay again, everything works out in the end.
Now for a random list of other aspects I loved about this book:
- They’re from Newton, MA! I have a friend who’s from there. And also BOSTON <3
- …and you know what Boston means – singing “Sweet Caroline” constantly! YES!
- She also referenced going to school in Providence and I went to school 20 minutes from there, plus two of my best friends live there now. That city = the best, too.
- There are constant references to amazing classic rock, like the Beatles, Queen, Rolling Stones, etc. DOUBLE YES!
- The setting of London was so cool. Damn I need to travel.
- Mark was a butt. (On that same token, that was one thing I didn’t like either: View Spoiler »Obviously throughout the book you can kind of tell that this Mark dude is not going to end up being her MTB. That’s fine. But then towards the end, you find out he’s super smarmy and gross. I get that it helped her get over him, but she was “over him” before that even happened. I just think it was a tiny bit unnecessary to make him this huge villain – more so than he had to be. « Hide Spoiler On the other hand, I think it was a realistic portrayal of what happens when you build someone up in your mind too much and put them on a pedestal.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins