Lauren Morrill’s Meant to Be made me really wish my high school had taken a class trip to a foreign country. Sure, we went on field trips, but they were always to museums an hour away, or Amish country (which, despite its name, is not actually another country). There was an eighth grade trip to Canada that I wasn’t even allowed to go on, but I’m pretty sure the most exciting thing that happened on that trip was a visit to Medieval Times (I do love giant turkey legs, though, because I’m a human being, so honestly I’m still a little bummed). One thing I definitely didn’t do in high school was take a class trip to London, where I could spend 10 days learning about history and literature while possibly falling in love with one or more dudes.
That’s exactly what happens to smarty-pants Julia, who spends her spring break in London with her teacher and some of her classmates. Julia, who’s such a literary nerd that her nickname is “Book Licker,” is stoked to see Shakespeare‘s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Unfortunately, her classmates are mostly looking forward to shopping. What’s worse, Julia gets stuck with Jason Lippincott as a travel buddy. Jason is immature, annoying, and nothing like Julia’s ultimate crush, Mark.
See, Julia believes in the concept of “meant to be,” or MTB. If you’re meant to be with someone, they’ll find you. Mark may not know he’s her MTB, but Julia’s sure he’ll figure it out eventually. The problem, of course, is that Mark’s back in the states, and Jason’s idea of fun is convincing everyone she had sex with him in the airplane bathroom. But then she starts getting some weird, flirtatious texts from a mysterious British guy, Chris.
Jason promises to help her figure out her mystery-text situation, and the two of them spend most of the book trying to track Chris down, all the while hanging out in London’s coolest record stores and parks. Along the way, Julia has to figure out if she still believes her MTB is out there, and if so, whether he’s Mark, Chris, or even Jason.
If you’re into swoony romances with a little bit of history thrown in, you’ll love Meant to Be. I recommend it to anyone who loves Stephanie Perkins, Meg Cabot or the romantic bits of Sarah Dessen’s books. And that’s some high praise, as you may remember how I feel about Stephanie Perkins (strongly. Very strongly).
-Meant to Be features my favorite type of YA heroine…the bookish, nerdy YA heroine! Why is that my favorite? Well, let’s just say I relate. Okay, I’m a nerd, is what I’m saying. Before psyching herself up to go to a party one night, Julia thinks, “I’m Julia Lichtenstein, and even though I alphabetize my bookshelf and have, from time to time, quoted Dante at swim team dinners, I can have fun!” That’s surprisingly similar to the pep talk I give myself whenever I decide to leave the house at night, except that it usually ends with me deciding I really should just stay in with a book. And that’s how this column was born.
-So Julia gets mysterious texts from a guy named Chris, which was pretty much my fantasy in high school. I mean, not a guy named Chris, and not text messages (because text messaging barely existed when I graduated from high school! I’m old! Stay off my lawn!). What I always wanted was a secret admirer. Is there anything more exciting? I love a mystery and I love flattery, and a secret admirer combines the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, no one ever slipped any clandestine love notes into my locker, and now that I’ve been with my boyfriend for 7 years, it would be both weird and kind of annoying for a secret admirer to show up. So, naturally, I lived vicariously through Julia’s mystery texts.
-You may remember that books set in boarding schools are the best books ever. Now I’ll have to add books about class trips to foreign countries to that list. No parents! Things to explore! New and exotic romantic locations! Perfect!
-If you fall in love with Lauren Morrill, you can get excited for her next book! According to her website, Being Sloane Jacobs should be out sometime in early 2014. Yay!
What about you, guys? Have you ever taken a class trip to a foreign country? Did you or did you not fall in love with someone in the process? And have you ever had a secret admirer? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Lauren Morrill