Simon Pulse, 304 pages
Expected US Release Date: August 27, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Challenges: SARC 2013
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...
"...I can love you and be pissed at the same time. They're not mutually exclusive."
Right before I started reading Just Like Fate, a friend told me she heard a lot of people saying this was their favourite book of the year. The pressure! Would I like it? Now I was expecting to love it, do you know how often that ruins great books for me?!
Well, ruining be damned because I understand completely how Just Like Fate could be at the top of many lists. It may not be at the top of mine, but it's definitely up there. It is everything I love, with just a little twist: contemporary, fate, destinies, dual narratives (kinda), swoon-worthy boys, drama and heartache, with some snippy, witty lines that made me laugh.
I have to first address that the writing in this was stellar - if I didn't already know it was two people writing this book, I never would have guessed it. At no point at all did I think the voices changed, there weren't any places where I felt the flow was broken or that something didn't match. Cat and Suzanne must have worked flawlessly together, because that's what the writing was.
Just Like Fate reminded me a lot of Pivot Point (sans the science fiction element, of course) (read my review here!), simply because it's the choice regarding family that effects the two outcomes. And I like how the choice really was a big one, with major changes. At the same time, Just Like Fate also reminded me a lot of Relativity by Cristina Bishara (my review will be posted in a few weeks, but you can read it here if you'd like) in that it's also about how one tiny change can alter a lifetime; and how some things are just destined to come true, regardless how we get there. Which is a point I love, because that's my own personal belief: I truly believe there are situations and/or people that we are individually meant to go through or know.
I know I just compared Just Like Fate to a lot of different books; that's not to say this book isn't unique on it's own or can stand alone - because it definitely can! Like I said, it's a lot of things we've seen before, a lot of my beloved elements...but all with a twist. I love that it's still a contemporary novel, even though we're living out two lives. I love that it's the style of dual narratives, even though it's more like two narrations. There are subtle changes that take you by surprise, and big huge ones that knock you off your feet. I absolutely loved the characters, even though I found a few of them to be pretty predictable. I especially liked how the end is entirely ambiguous and yet completely definitive at the same time -- that is skill and cleverness all wrapped into one!
Something I also loved is how much is handled in this book. So much family drama, friendships gone strained, relationships gone super-steamy and/or super-wrong, even Caroline's own journey of mourning and running and bad habits. It seems like a lot, but it all works together so seamlessly you really grow attached to everyone and everything.
And last, but definitely not least...Chris. One of the boys Caroline could end up with. Oh, my heart. I loved him in both situations, and I love that he's a little bit different in both but at the core the very same adorable boy with a soulful strum in his guitar and a nice arrogant humor that mixes so well with his admiration for Caroline. I love him, and I want him. Just like how much I love this book and want you to like it as well -- except for Chris, because he's mine.