Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick (website | twitter) + Suzanne Young (website | twitter)
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: different life scenarios, death of a grandparent, divorced parents
Format Read: ARC received at TLA from the publisher. (Thank you!)
Other Books I’ve Reviewed by These Authors: The Originals
Summary: Called out of class, Caroline finds out that her grandmother is in the hospital. She’s been Caroline’s rock since her parent’s divorce and in two different scenarios, Patrick and Young explore what life would be like for Caroline if she chose to go to a party instead of staying with her grandmother at the hospital or if she stayed by her side.
One reality: Caroline’s grandmother is dying. No one knows how much time she has left.
Two scenarios: Escape the sadness and family drama to go to a party with her BFF, Simone, or stay with her grandmother.
STAY vs. GO
Have you ever thought about a pivotal moment in your life and realized that if you had gone down another path, absolutely everything might have ended up differently? For me one of those big moments is if I had actually dated my long-term crush/best guy friend in high school. Or maybe the moment when I liked this other guy and he and his dad made a bet about how many phone numbers he could collect while we were at camp. (Let me add: it was church camp.) Thanks to social media, I have been able to keep up with where both of those guys have ended up throughout the years, and let me just say, I’m really glad things have worked out the way they are. (And yes, I do realize I sound stalker-ish.)
Just Like Fate is a beautiful exploration of how Caroline’s choices and decisions in the past have shaped how she moves forward. One particularly excellent portrayal is in regards to her family. Her parents are divorced, and both are remarried. Caroline barely speaks to her father, and her mother’s remarks always seem to be a little underhanded. She remained close with her brother, Teddy, but is somewhat estranged from her older sister, Natalie. Her youngest sister, Juju, is too young to grasp the majority of what’s going on. Natalie and Caroline have a ton of friction between them since Caroline decided to move in with her grandmother during the divorce because she couldn’t handle the change. Natalie feels like Caroline always runs away from problems and never sticks around to solve anything. Caroline sees Natalie as a goody-two-shoes who is judgmental and stuck-up. Teddy is the glue that tries to hold everything together, but as a college student he’s got his own life to live.
When the situation arises with her grandmother in the hospital, Caroline is once again faced with a tough decision. Does she do the hard thing and push through all the family drama to be by her grandmother’s side, or does she go to a party with her best friend, Simone, and forget about about her problems? Both scenarios and outcomes are laid out before the reader in alternating Stay and Go chapters. My reading time was a bit spotty when I first began Just Like Fate, not allowing me a good chunk of time to get into the flow of the story. Once I was finally able to push aside my responsibilities and focus, I felt like I could really connect with Caroline and the flow of the story.
With the two different scenarios comes different obstacles and characters. Joel is the boy that Caroline’s always wanted to date; she’s loved him from afar for quite a long while. Then there’s Chris, the college guy who is incredibly funny and sarcastic. Both seem appealing in their own ways until Caroline is confronted with having to make some decisions. (This seems to be a common theme, doesn’t it?) There are some pretty big ups and downs with Simone as well that felt very realistic; they have to figure their way out of some uncomfortable situations and Caroline has to learn how to talk through things instead of turning inward. While I definitely loved the guy aspect that strung my romantic side along, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the bigger questions: Was it possible for Caroline to mend the broken relationships with her father and sister? Could she become a stronger woman if she had to confront life instead of always fleeing? Despite how we react to a situation, do we arrive at different conclusions?
Just Like Fate was an engaging, fast-paced read. I’ve very much enjoyed Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young’s individual work in the past, but I certainly hope they’ll consider writing more together in the future. For now, you should definitely be pre-ordering this book so you can gobble it up as soon as possible.