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 wasn’t Julia’s biggest fan at first, but I think that might have been because I could see parallels between my younger self and this opinionated, grumpy, misguided girl. Like Julia, I found myself judging others a bit too quickly, and sometimes to harshly. Since I was so judgmental, I was grumpy and dissatisfied with my peers. Aaaaand of course I assumed my crush and I would somehow find a way into each others arms (despite his girlfriend, who he is now married to!) and he would be absolutely wonderful and charming. It didn’t take long for my illusions to shatter, just like Julia’s… and I can’t help but recognize the Julia in both of my younger sisters, in my girlfriends, etc. Julia isn’t all that likable through most of the book, but, to me, she was just going through that mean teenage girl phase that most girls go through at some point in their adolescence.
The concept of MTB isn’t limited to just teenage girls; women of all ages, shapes, and sizes have the potential to fall into the MTB, true love, trap. I love that Julia realizes that love and relationships are more complicated on both her own terms and in reference to her mother and father’s relationship, which she used as her benchmark of a good, MTB relationship.
Julia’s relationship with her mother was, for me, one of the highlights of the novel. I really appreciated their bond and the open communication between the two, which aides in Julia’s become more aware of the world around her and herself. Their conversations never felt forced or false and I loved the warmth of their dialogue.
To properly enjoy Meant to Be, there’s a certain amount of suspended disbelief on the part of the reader. The situation Julia and Jason find themselves in did not feel real at all, which I sometimes found a bit distracting, but it served its purpose.
Meant to Be is mostly cute and the ending is more than a little predictable, but there’s a heartfelt message beneath the fluffy plot and I have to give Morrill props for that.
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, November 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780385741774, 304 pages.