Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Summary (From Goodreads): 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.
More than anything else, the cover of Meant to Be drew me to this book. I’ve been wanting to read it since first seeing it, so I was really excited when one of the girls in the book club I run chose it as our next book. We discussed Lauren Morrill’s debut before Christmas break and the majority of the girls loved it. I, on the other hand, didn’t quite love it.
I completely understand why my girls loved it so much. It’s cute, it takes place in London, and there’s both swoony and funny scenes. For some reason those pieces didn’t carry me through like they normally might. I couldn’t connect with Julia or Jason at all. Julia’s obsession with following all the rules and then so easily breaking them felt forced and unrealistic. The plot didn’t feel strong enough either. I needed more from it than just texting a mysterious guy and then worrying about Jason. The ending puts everything together and saved the book for me, but I wish there had been more in the middle to make me enjoy Meant to Be that much more.
Author: Tracy Bilen
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Finished copy received from the author
Summary (From Goodreads):
“Don’t even think of leaving… I will find you,” he whispered.
Sara and her mom have a plan to finally escape Sara’s abusive father. But when her mom doesn’t show up as expected, Sara’s terrified. Her father says that she’s on a business trip, but Sara knows he’s lying. Her mom is missing—and her dad had something to do with it.
With each day that passes, Sara’s more on edge. Her friends know that something’s wrong, but she won’t endanger anyone else with her secret. And with her dad growing increasingly violent, Sara must figure out what happened to her mom before it’s too late…for them both.
What She Left Behind is a great mystery that I’m sure will hook some of my reluctant readers. It has fairly short chapters which keep the story paced well and will appeal to many of my students. So many of them won’t stop reading until they read the end of the chapter, so I’ll sometimes spot them flipping through a book before they read it to see how long the chapters are.
The beginning of Tracy Bilen’s debut is gripping as Sara remembers threats her father made towards her mother; it’s obvious right away that this is a violent home. I was tense through the beginning and Sara and her mother plan their escape and when Sara suddenly finds herself without her mother. The fact that Sara’s dad won’t recognize her brother’s death is even worse and adds more tension to the story.
My one issue with this story is that I needed a little more action or build up in the middle of the book. The beginning caught my attention right away and the ending is even more intense, but the middle dragged a bit. I’m not sure what would make it better, to be honest. Maybe the relationship between Sara and Alex could be stronger. Even though the middle was a bit slow for me, I think my students will really like this.
Since I know many of the people reading my blog are teachers and librarians, you’ll be happy to know that What She Left Behind is in paperback. I know I always appreciate being able to buy a new release in paperback; my bank account appreciates it, too 🙂
As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!