Meant to Be, by Lauren Morrill

Like most YA novels that aren't straight-up angstfests, Lauren Morrill's Meant to Be has its fair share of cringe-worthy moments. But if you can disengage your sense of secondhand embarrassment, Morrill's novel is an engaging opposites-attract love story, offering readers a fun alternative to the current overabundance of supernatural romances and dystopian horror stories.

Meant to Be is told from the perspective of Julia Lichtenstein, straight-A student, award-winning swimmer, and devoted rule follower. Julia has been carrying around romantic notions about her childhood friend Mark for years, but that doesn't stop her from forming a crush on a boy she meets at a party during her school trip to London. Nor does it stop her from developing feelings—irritation, mostly, but then a slow-growing but undeniable attraction—for Jason, the popular, irrepressible class clown who is everything Julia isn't.

I enjoyed Meant to Be, but I never quite bought the idea that Julia needed to loosen up. Instead, I spent the first half of the book sincerely wanting to smack Jason. The guy behaves like a hyperactive toddler, and the fact that no one calls him on it (apart from Julia) is the least plausible aspect of this story. Seriously, no flight attendant is going to reward an obnoxious dudebro making noisy plane crash jokes during turbulence with extra cookies. They're going to tell him to put a sock in it, and said sock will be richly deserved. It's not enough to be told that Jason is insanely charismatic, as a reader I have to see it, and it wasn't until well into the story that I finally starting buying Jason's much-vaunted charm.

Happily, once I'd come round on Jason, things started looking up. Sure, the plot climax was a pileup of far-fetched coincidences, but the steadily increasing romantic chemistry between the two leads was more than enough to get me through it. Meant to Be would make a lovely big-budget teen film (although it seems more likely it would be turned into one of those aggressively wholesome Disney Channel movies), and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to while away a rainy Spring afternoon with a warm, lively, genuinely sweet read.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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