Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet, an anthology. HMH Books for Young Readers. 2018.
I enjoyed this anthology of meet cute YA stories! I love meet-cute romance, it’s one of my favorite romance subgenres, and it was really nice to spend time reading teen meet-cutes (most of whom were romances). There are some really lovely stories here, a few that didn’t work for me, and one that I was troubled by. All in all, that’s pretty good for an anthology.
I loved three of the f/f romance stories. “Print Shop”, by Nina LaCour was gorgeous and held my heart. I especially loved all the details about the print shop and first jobs and falling for someone’s online presence. (This was my first read of anything by this author and it made me want to read her other work!) “Somewhere That’s Green” by Meredith Russo (which has a trans girl MC) made me cry. It’s beautiful and heartwrenching and so so timely. “Oomph” by Emery Lord was a lovely meet cute f/f romance. Fluffy and adorable.
I also really enjoyed several of the geekier m/f meet-cutes. “Click”, by Katharine McGee was sad and sweet and geeky in the best way. “The Unlikely Likelihood Of Falling In Love” by Jocelyn Davies was a lovely fluffy m/f romance, and a love letter to NYC. I really liked the secondary characters, and the heroine’s voice was so strong. It was such a great take on the theme, too. I enjoyed “259 Miles” by Kass Morgan, a m/f meet cute where two teens who want to go to Mars are put into isolation together as a final test. Its got some angst & some light moments too, and felt balanced in them.
The worldbuilding in “The Way We Love Here” by Dhonielle Clayton has wonderful detail, but I wanted a longer story to hold it! I struggle with the fated mates idea as a central concept; I liked that it doesn’t just accept it, that challenge is built in.
A few of the m/f romance stories felt more thinly drawn as far as characterization goes, but delivered a really strong meet cute, plotwise. “The Dictionary of You and Me” by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a cute and fluffy m/f romance where characters meet through a library book, and “The Department of Dead Love” by Nicola Yoon where characters meet through unpacking a break up were two good examples of this.
I was all on board for “The Intern” by Sara Shepard, a grief centered rock star story til it turned into cultural appropriation. It’s not okay to have a romantic gesture based on telling a white character that she’s a Hawaiian goddess.
“Something Real” by Julie Murphy has a great premise, and quietly builds to it, and I liked the fat rep, but I was on tenterhooks about whether I was going to be queerbaited the whole time. I think it needed a few more cues to queer readers as to who the love interest was going to be.
A few stories just didn’t work for me. “Say Everything” by Huntley Fitzpatrick because of the pacing and arc, and the way the conflict just faded away for no reason. “Hourglass” by Ibi Zoboi because I was so angry with her friend being so awful that I just couldn’t get excited about the meet cute. “Siege Etiquette” by Katie Cotugno mostly because I wanted it to be a romance with a happy ending and it just wasn’t.
listed by story (in white, highlight to read)
- Siege Etiquette: References to alcohol use child physical abuse, parental death and a drunk driving car accident. Descriptions of bullying.
- Hourglass: Fat hating racist bullying. Internalized fat antagonism.
- Click: death of family member, grief arc.
- The Intern: parental death, grief arc, cultural appropriation.
- Somewhere That’s Green: transmisogyny, trans oppression, misgendering.
- The Way We Love Here: suicidality, terminal illness.
- Oomph: parent with anxiety.
- The Dictionary of You & Me: Reference to physical violence on a date, I read it as a coded reference to sexual assault.
- The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love: casual ableist slur.
- 259 Million Miles: cyberbullying, parental death.
- Something Real: description of car accident where MC’s sibling died, vomiting.
- Say Everything: financial ruin, jokes about violence.
- The Department of Dead Love: references to partner death.
- Source of the book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
- I have had brief Twitter conversations with one of the authors, Meredith Russo.
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