Title: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morrill
Release Date: 11/13/2012
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Description: 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.
Thoughts: I don’t want to say that I didn’t like this book, because that’s just not true. I also don’t want to say that it didn’t live up to expectations, because that’s not true either. I guess what I should say is that I think this is a solid book, I get why other people would like it, but it’s just not for me.
Things started well. The main character starts off talking about how she hates the word “moist” and thinks bungee jumping is terrifying. I’m right there with her on those two things so I was hopeful that I had found a book character BFF. Sadly, after the beginning, Julia just became too much for me to deal with.
Julia is strange, I get that, I respect that, I think most people, myself included, are a little weird, but Julia’s complete lack of self-awareness made me want to strangle her pretty much 24/7. At the beginning of the book, when Julia is on her way to London with all her obnoxious classmates, I felt bad for her. I was always a pretty serious student in high school and the gossipy girls and the annoying class clown guys always drove me nuts, too. Then she’s paired up with the annoying class clown Jason and I felt even worse for her, how crappy would that be?
But my issue with the book is that pretty quickly we come to see that Jason is actually a pretty good guy. He uses humor and obnoxiousness as a defense mechanism, sure, but, at least to me, I started to like him pretty much right after the story got under way and I got more and more annoyed at the way Julia was treating him. Maybe this is one of those times where being a 28-year-old and reading YA fiction is a bad thing since I have 12 or so more years than teenagers of dealing with people and better understanding their motivations?
My other main issue, which ties into this one, is that much of the book takes place into Julia’s head. And we’ve already established that I wasn’t a fan of what was happening there. Even though Julia and her classmates are in this amazing city I kind of felt like they didn’t really do anything, even though they did. They went to the Tate, the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels, the Globe Theater, and lots of other cool London spots, but rather than hearing about those spots we’re instead stuck inside Julia’s self-absorbed, ridiculous head. I found myself scrolling forward looking for pages with dialogue rather than ones with Julia’s internal monologue.
Enough with the bad! What did I like? I like the concept up the story, a girl goes on a class trip to London and all her preconceived notions are blasted apart. I liked Jason, a lot, but my liking Jason definitely contributed to my not liking Julia. I liked all the places Julia’s class visited in London; I haven’t been to London in a long time, but I feel like they got a pretty comprehensive tour and if someone who had never been to London read this they would get a good feel for the city.
Bottom Line: I get why people like this book, but, unfortunately, books that take place mainly inside a character’s head aren’t for me, especially when those characters are lacking in self-awareness as much as Julia was. I did love the love interest and all the places that Julia’s class visited in London, but that wasn’t enough to help me get over how much I disliked the main character.