Book Description (From Amazon):
Publication Date: November 13, 2012 | Age Level: 12 and up | Grade Level: 7 and up
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.
What I didn't like -
- I very nearly didn't finish reading this book. It was lousy with one of my most particular pet peeves when it comes to writing....the tag line "thankyouverymuch". This tag was used 7 times in the book, on pages 30, 33, 42, 62, 121, 189 and 236, and if you ask me, that's just a little too much and a little too irritating.
- Cutsy sentences like, "What I need is a plan. I love plans, especially when they’re written down with my favorite pencil using pretty little bullet points, but I’m too tired to get out of bed now."
- Repetitive descriptions like, "The sky is clear blue. Fluffy animal shaped clouds drift across the clear blue sky." What kind of blue?
I had read a sample of Being Sloane Jacobs, which I really liked so I picked up the book. Now, I haven’t read it yet, but based on that sample, I decided to pick up the first book, Meant to Be, without sampling it.
I've mentioned before my stacks I carry around when I’m trying to figure out which book to read. Usually it is about 10 books high, sometimes more. This one was on my stack. It was on top and I had a few minutes to read a chapter so I grabbed the book and started reading.
It starts out on a plane (I love plane rides!) with London as the destination. Serendipitous, as I was also reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight which is also set in London. One book for work and one for home. As I love London, it seemed like it would be a perfect book.
It’s a school trip heading to London for 10 days. The story is told from the point of view of Julia Lichtenstein who is sort of on the fringe and mostly invisible. The travel group is 20 teens with one chaperon, which seems a recipe for disaster.
Julia begins her adventure as an uptight, know-it-all rule follower. She is judgmental, a bit arrogant, but at the same time very naive. I have to be honest. I didn't really like her at first. She has rules she lives by, ideas that are not based in reality, expects every one else to behave as she does and those that don’t are branded as immature, jerky, shallow and any other number of classifications. She keeps her nose in a book, which I do not have an issue with, but she seems to believe life and love should be like the books or like the songs say. She believes in a one true love or Meant to Be (MTB), that all relationships should be like the loving, perfect relationship her parents had. It is this idea of a prefect love that she holds onto.
When she was young, she had a friend named Mark. They were neighbors and were always together. They even had a fake wedding which ended in Julia’s first kiss at the age of 5, but the following year, Mark’s dad was transferred and they moved away. Julia has held a torch for him ever since. Now his family has moved back to town and she thinks he is her MTB, although in the 8 months or so he’s been back, he really doesn't pay any attention to her or talk to her.
So, she’s off to London, the land of Shakespeare and where her parent’s went on their honeymoon. She packed about 20 books to reading and about 5 travel books all with post its to highlight all the places she wants to go and things she wants to see. She’s organized down to having an exact place for everything in her messenger bag.
When they get to the hotel, they find that they all have to have a buddy. Their teacher hands them each a cell phone that is charged with 20 minutes that is to be used for emergencies only. They have cultural time every day where they are to go explore the culture of London and write reflection papers on what they've seen and experienced. They are not to go anywhere without their buddy and the buddies are responsible for each other. While Julia doesn't have anyone she would call a friend on this trip, she gets paired with the absolute last person on earth she would want to be buddied up with, Jason Lippincott.
Jason is everything Julia is not. He is a bit of a clown, is charming and can worm his way into anyone’s good graces. He seems to be able to wrap girls around his finger and get whatever he wants. He doesn't believe in perfect love or the idea that there is a one true love. He’s sloppy, lazy, certainly not a serious student and just wants to have fun.
Put these two together and the results can be disastrous. The very first night in London, Jason sets the stage for their partnership. He learned about a party and wants to go, so he goes to Julia’s room to take her with him. When she refuses, he points out that if she doesn't come with him, she will be letting him go out alone and they were told to not let their buddies go out without them. Knowing he has her caught, she figures she will break a rule either way. She will either break a rule going out after hours or break a rule letting her buddy go off alone. She figures it is better to go and keep an eye on him. The trouble is their teacher collects their room keys every night so they can’t sneak out, but Jason charmed the girl at reception and got duplicate room keys for the two of them.
The party is a bit of a disaster. Jason abandons her as soon as they get to the party so he can go chat up girls. She ends up getting drunk and decides to make herself seem more interesting by telling the guys she meets that she is a model. She ends up getting drunk and Jason gets confronted for talking to the wrong girl.
Hung over the next day, Julia gets a text from some guy named Chris she can’t remember. The class is at the Tate. She was really forward to the outing prior to the drunken outing, but all she can do now is try to stop her head from moving and she sits down. Unfortunately, Jason won’t leave her alone. He seems to like to tease her, calling her “Book Licker”. When he takes her phone and sees the text from Chris, he decides to go all Pygmalion on Julia and decides to help her real in this mystery guy. The catch? She has to write his reflection papers.
From there, is it a hunt all over London for the elusive mystery guy. And the more time they spend together, the more she realizes Jason is not the jerk she thought he was.
Despite my reservations at first, I ended up really enjoying the book anyway and am glad I persevered. The one thing I really enjoyed about this was that we got a different taste of London, not the typical type of touristy locations travelers might visit, but a lot of rich, vibrant locations that are not on the well beaten path. Just the escape I needed, well, until I can make my own.