Title: Meet Cute
Authors: Jennifer L. Armentrout; Dhonielle Clayton; Katie Cotugno; Jocelyn Davies; Huntley Fitzpatrick; Nina LaCour; Emery Lord; Katharine McGee; Kass Morgan; Julie Murphy; Meredith Russo; Sara Shepard; Nicola Yoon; Ibi Zoboi
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Anthology, Queer Fiction, Queer Romance
Rating: Highly Recommended
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.
I just love a good meet-cute, so it sure is convenient (and awesome) that I was approved for a book all about meet-cutes by some of the best authors currently writing Young Adult fiction!
Meet Cute is a delightful anthology full of well-written and frequently complex short stories. I think, honestly, that there might be something in this story for everyone. If you’re as big a fan of meet-cutes as I am, that is! Many of the stories aren’t necessarily “Happily Ever Afters”, they’re snapshots of a happy (or bittersweet) moment in a complicated life, but that’s definitely a good thing to read! Many of the stories center characters that are queer and/or characters of color and that’s awesome!
The first story in the anthology is Katie Cotugno’s “Siege Etiquette” where two teenagers wind up hiding in a bathroom at a party. It was a good, solid opening to the anthology! It’s followed by Nina LaCour’s “Print Shop” which is a cute and super relatable story about how a teenage girl’s first day of work at a local print shop leads to an adorable meeting with a frustrated customer.
Ibi Zoboi’s “Hourglass” might actually have been my favorite story in Meet Cute because I have been in the same shoes as Zoboi’s main character Cherish and I didn’t have half as much courage as she does. A couple of the stories in Meet Cute left me wanting to know more about the characters or their world, and this was definitely one of them.
“Click” by Katharine McGee is a near-future story about the potential for new love existing alongside mourning following the death of a sibling. It’s a little sad and a little sweet. Definitely a good story in this anthology! (One thing that I’ve been stuck on: the main character Alexa mentions dating someone named Koty at the beginning of the story and I’m still trying to figure out Koty’s gender because at my first read through, I got it into my head that Alexa was bi and I’m… not as confident now.)
Sara Shepard’s “The Intern” is another meet-cute set after a personal tragedy. This story didn’t snag me as much as the one that came before it, but it was still really cute! Following that is Meredith Russo’s “Somewhere That’s Green”, my second favorite story in Meet Cute. “Somewhere That’s Green” is a little tough to read and a little bit heart-breaking on top of that (because the one main character Nia is dealing with transmisogyny and the other, Lexie is dealing with the fact that she’s been parroting her parents’ bigoted beliefs instead of speaking her mind and living her truth), but oh, I made such a noise at the end because it’s PERFECT.
Now I’ll read just about anything that Dhonielle Clayton writes and “The Way We Love Here” is pretty darn good. This is a fantasy story – my brain wants to call it “magical realism” and we’re just… going to ignore that – about a land where people have red “strings” around their fingers that are used to help them find love. Definitely a beautiful and bittersweet story!
Following that is “Oomph,” an airport meet-cute for the ages. There’s just so much to love about Emery Lord’s truly too-cute story about two young women who meet at an airport and bond over an in-joke that just keeps going. I just love the tone of the whole story and the references to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe only make it better!
Then there’s “The Dictionary of Me and You”, Jennifer L. Armentrout’s story set in a library. I straight up described this story to one of my friends as “the meet-iest of meet-cutes”. Jocelyn Davies’ “The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love” is totally mathematical and a super fun read! You’ll totally believe in the romantic properties of statistics after this story!
Next, while Kass Morgan’s “259 Million Miles” is a well-written story that centers a main character dealing with social anxiety and the after effects of a horrible moment in his young life going viral, it just didn’t… win me over entirely. I also wasn’t entirely fond of the ending… Weh.
Julie Murphy’s “Something Real”, the story right after that one in Meet Cute is straight up like… an episode of your favorite ABC Family/Freeform show, but one with a cute queer ending and a fat MC centered in the story. I love every single thing about this story, especially what happens to the celebrity who’s the reason for the other characters’ presence on a reality TV show set. “Something Real” is a super satisfying read!
Meet Cute’s penultimate story – Huntley Fitzpatrick’s “Say Everything” – was alright. I mean, it’s another very solid read in that I didn’t skim over any of it and I thought the meet cute element was used to great effect. The final story in the anthology, Nicola Yoon’s “The Department of Dead Love” is interesting. I’m still not sure how I feel about either the worldbuilding or the romance(s) in the story, but I want to know more about this world because I have questions. And wanting to know more about a world just from how it’s presented in a short story is a good sign!
I basically enjoyed most of the stories and I felt like it was a great read! I feel as though Meet Cute isn’t just a fantastic anthology about one of the greatest tropes used in romance novels (and Captain America: Winter Soldier, in my opinion): it’s also a great primer for getting into these unbelievably skilled authors. Thanks to Meet Cute, I was introduced to several authors that I’d never read before and got a chance to read good, goopy stories from some of my favorite YA authors!
Seriously, it’s such a wonderful anthology!
Note: If you’ve read these stories and noted other content notes/warnings, please let me know so I can make a space here to link to your review/warnings!
Siege Etiquette – offscreen parental death and the aftermath
Print Shop – N/A
Hourglass – the main character experiences anti-black racism and bullying
Click – offscreen death of a sibling and grieving in the aftermath
The Intern – offscreen death of a mother and aftermath
Somewhere That’s Green – transmisogyny and cissexism faced by main character
The Way We Love Here – N/A
Oomph – N/A
The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love – N/A
259 Million Miles – main character has anxiety
Something Real – N/A
Say Everything – N/A
The Department of Dead Love – N/A