Today, I'm reviewing Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young for YA Contemporary Thursday!
This is an awesome book that explores both sides of the coin in a decision, quite literally. It's going to appeal to a variety of readers!
Published August 27th 2013 by Simon Pulse
Format read: Hardcover (owned)
Authors Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young team up to explore both sides of how a girl's life may be changed due to a singled decision, and how that decision will force her to confront her life, what she believes in, and what she has emotionally been running from.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
So when I heard about Just like Fate, I knew this was something I wanted to read. I was intrigued by the synopsis, and I had also liked both Cat and Suzanne's books individually, so I figured I was more than likely to enjoy having both of them team up.
I was right. Just like Fate is a highly enjoyable tale exploring both sides of how a single decision made by a girl, can alter the course of her life.
Things that worked:
I'm sure like me, most people are wondering how a book works when two authors are working on the project. Does the voice transition seamlessly? Are the characterizations consistent?
Well, not to worry, because Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young's writing blends together seamlessly. They've created a world that is beautifully realistic, and characters who are charmingly real. They also capture Caroline's voice consistently well - perfecting her evolution from a confused teen who has lost her anchor (a.k.a. her grandmother), to someone who is on the path to growing up.
* The plotting
We're thrown into the action by Patrick and Young immediately. After a brief glimpse of Caroline's life before the pivot, we're immediately thrown into the decision that takes Caroline down her two different paths.
As the story progresses, Patrick and Young use typical teenage events - e. meeting the cute boy; having fights with the best friend - into propelling the action forward.
Even though there aren't any really dramatic events as Caroline and readers live out both sides of the coin, Patrick and Young are able to skillfully show how seemingly ordinary events - e.g. going on an important first date - can be a teenage rite-of-passage that helps molds and shapes a person's mind to the person they want to be.
As plotting goes, I was highly entertained, and didn't feel my attention waning once.
As the main character, Caroline is the quintessential teenager. She has a snarky and hilarious sense of humor with her friends, but can also act like an extreme brat to family. She runs away from problems when they're tough, and can jump-to-conclusions.
Even though I'm sure most parents are reading this and thinking "Sigh - yes, teenagers are a handful", I think that Patrick and Young have wonderfully captured in Caroline what it is to be a teenager, and what it is to be confused at a difficult point in time. You're up, you're down, and yet despite everything, you keep on going and learning.
While this is definitely very much Caroline's story, all of the secondary characters are very well sketched-out as well. Patrick and Young are able to use just one line of dialogue, or one descriptor of a character's actions, to round-out their personalities and how they fit into Caroline's world.
I think readers will be especially touched at Caroline's burgeoning understanding in both paths that her parents are just ordinary people, and how even though their paths may no longer intersect, they will still love her and their family.
* The rapport between family and friends
One of my favorite parts of Just like Fate, is the rapport that Caroline has with her brother and her friends. They're friendly and tease one another, yet they're also protective and not willing to hold back when they think that someone has done something wrong.
(And this occurs quote often in Caroline's case, both rightly and erroneously).
Through that rapport, Young and Patrick also really emphasize the idea that in many ways, relationships often hinge on one what-if moment at well. One decision can really change the course of how people get along with one another, and they have that play out beautifully in several specific instances.
Without giving any spoilers away, the ending is perfect. It provides perfect closure to the story, while also reinforcing the lessons that Caroline has learned and experienced over the course of the novel.
This was one of those books where I read the ending and didn't feel like I needed a sequel, because it had been wrapped up so beautifully.
Things that didn't work:
However, with that being said, I did think that Patrick and Young did a fantastic and extremely fun job of fleshing out the strength and weaknesses of both of those love interests. One of them in particular made me lean over and hug my boyfriend while I was reading, because I was thankful that I had met the real-life equivalent of that character.
So yes, the romantic plot lines might have been stereotypical, but they were still highly enjoyable.
Readers will absolutely enjoy reading about Caroline's evolution from a teenager who has run away from difficult situations in the past, to someone who is willing to confront her problems and challenges head on, and how her journey can even help inspire and alter the behavior in others.
I strongly recommend this book for fans of contemporary fiction and (lighter) science fiction, and also for fans of books like Me Vs. Me, Pivot Point and movies like Sliding Doors.
About the authors:
Suzanne Young currently lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she teaches high school English. When not writing obsessively, Suzanne can be found searching her own tragic memories for inspiration. She is the author of several books for teens, including The Program, A Need So Beautiful, and A Want So Wicked. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @Suzanne_Young, and visit Suzanne-Young.blogspot.com.