Published by Quill Tree Books on May 4, 2021
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
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Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.
Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.
When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.
I really really wanted to love Meet Cute Diary. I love meet cute stories and when I heard that the main character is mixed-race and transgender, I leapt at the chance to read this novel. Unfortunately, despite loving the fantastic exploration of gender and identity in this book, Noah, the main character, just irked me throughout the book and I couldn’t really move past that.
Meet Cute Diary follows, Noah, a 16-year-old transgender boy, who runs a successful blog called the Meet Cute Diary that contains anonymous meet cute stories from trans people… except all of the stories are made up. A troll exposes the stories as made up and it’s damage control time for Noah. The only problem is that Noah is staying with his older brother, Brian, in Denver for the summer while his parents are organising a permanent move from Miami to Los Angeles, and his best friend and confidant, Becca, is still in Miami and often MIA. He’s not quite sure how to save the Meet Cute Diary, which he sees as a beacon of hope for other trans people. Until Drew comes on to the scene. Drew offers to fake date Noah so that he can post about the fake relationship on Meet Cute Diary. And things start to progress into a real relationship until Noah realises that real life doesn’t quite work out in the same way as in his fantasies.
Let’s cut to the chase. I loved the trans representation in this book and the conversations on gender and identity that happened throughout the book, but I really disliked Noah. I found him to be really entitled and obnoxious at times, and I just had no patience with him. I thought he acted really immaturely and was just kind of disrespectful about a lot of things. And I’m just sort of over reading stories with really dislikeable characters just so that they can have what seems like dramatic character growth. But I found that that also fell short in Meet Cute Diary. I didn’t feel as though Noah developed all that much in the book, besides figuring out that the blog shouldn’t be the most important thing in his life and that he actually needs to put work into his friendships.
I also found that things weren’t really resolved all that well… or things just sorted themselves out. For example, Noah’s fake (and then real) relationship with Drew kind of just ended and was never resolved. And I felt like issues with Noah and Becca’s friendship also just resolved themselves. I just found things to be a bit jarring and the flow of the story to be lacking. This was also the case with the romances. Things just happened with Drew and then things just happened with Devin with very little transition and flow.
I also felt a bit distanced from the whole blog aspect (even though I’m a blogger and use social media). I thought the use of Tumblr as the main platform was a bit strange – I didn’t realise it was still relevant and I never used it even when it was sort of relevant back when I was a teenager.
I thought the concept of Meet Cute Diary was great but the execution was a bit lacking for me. I found Noah very frustrating and I didn’t really connect with very many of the side characters. I’d recommend the book for anyone looking for great trans representation but the novel wasn’t really for me.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy through Edelweiss.
Meet Cute Diary is available now for US readers for $17.99 USD. It is out in Australia in July.
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