Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, published by Electric Monkey on 6th March 2014
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her whole family is on her back, and her grandmother, the only person who really understands her, is sick, maybe dying. All she wants to do is escape. So when her best friend suggests a night out to forget her troubles, Caroline must choose: stay by her grandmother's side, or go to the party and live her life . . . and maybe meet the boy of her dreams.
This decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths - and she's about to live them both. But there can only be one happy ending...
I'm a massive fan of Cat Patrick and I've loved all of her previous books, so I jumped at the chance to read 'Just Like Fate' which is co-authored with Suzanne Young. The story adopts a really interesting sliding doors type scenario, focusing on the main character, teenager Caroline, who has to decide at the start of the book, whether or not to stay with her dying grandmother or go to a party with her best-friend.
The idea of having alternating chapters showing what happens when she goes or stays, was an interesting narrative device. It enables Patrick and Young to present both sides of the story and to leave it up to the reader to decide what course of action they would have taken. Both stories are cleverly depicted and flow nicely, so it never feels in any way disjointed.
Both paths that Caroline potentially follows have their ups and downs. She has a fractured relationship with her divorced parents and a difficult sibling bond with her older sister. Family is a big theme in the book and I thought all the issues that Caroline has to face in terms of finding her own place in her various family units, were dealt with really well. There's also romance in her future. In one half of the story, she finally starts seeing the boy she's been mad about since they were children and in the other, she meets a college guy who is smart and funny and makes her feel wanted. I know which boy I preferred but Caroline has to work through her feelings for both before she can begin to build a proper relationship with one of them. I must admit that the romance aspect of the story was a bit of a slow burner for me and at times, I just didn't feel any real sparks between the characters. However it did pick up a bit in the second half of the book and by the end I was really rooting for one particular couple.
The story is largely about fate itself and philosophises about the choices that we make throughout our lives. There isn't always a 'right' choice but the decisions we make shape and change us as people and the lessons we learn stand us in good stead for the future.
This was a great contemporary YA read and will particularly appeal to readers who like the idea of parallel lives. Although it didn't quite reach the heights of Cat Patrick's previous books, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and at the same time have discovered a new author in the shape of Suzanne Young.