Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Delacorte Press, 2012
Julia is the ultimate type-A personality, straight-A student who has been dreaming of London her entire life. After all, her parents with their practically-perfect marriage went to England for their honeymoon and now she's having her turn with a school trip. What better place to daydream about her childhood crush, Mark? But this spring break, it's clear that nothing will be going along with her meticulous plans. After all, she's been paired up with class clown Jason - a guy who is her polar opposite - and chaos quickly follows. After a crazy night at a wild party, Julia starts getting flirty texts from an unknown number, and Jason promises to help figure out who it is as long as she promises to explore England his way. Despite how strongly Julia says she believes Mark is her MTB (meant-to-be), she starts to learn that when it comes to the heart, there's no predicting what comes next or who you're meant to be with.
I can easily see why this book has been marketed as something that readers of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins will enjoy. And as someone who loved Anna so much, that was a big claim to have to live up to. I'm so happy that Morrill fulfilled my expectations and more in her debut novel. Like Julia's favorite play A Midsummer Night's Dream, this story is filled with romantic mishaps and misunderstandings, each of the characters are flawed but the ones who matter grow and evolve, and if you're an Anglophile, then this is a good choice for you, too.
Over the course of a few hours spread across two evenings, I curled up with a blanket in the cold winter and this book immediately transported me. Jason was cute and insufferable, but then again plenty of times so was Julia. I connected with her need for order and desire for a happy ending. I loved how secondary characters, even ones we rarely see or never see at all, still manage to be multi-dimensional and play into the plot. Of course a few who were also on the trip with Julia could have been more well-rounded, but this had a good balance because otherwise the story would have gotten crowded.
While I found it to be a smidge on the predictable side (which is a little bit inevitable in love stories), I still really found myself to be smitten with Morrill's writing style. Will the many and multiple ways that this story is like Anna and the French Kiss bug some people as being too similar? Perhaps, but to me it was another great travel story in Europe that I was happy to escape into.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
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