Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Summary and Review
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape–both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths–and she’s about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she’s ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…
[Synopsis from Goodreads]
In the STAY timeline, Caroline remains with her sick grandmother and her family. She ends up hanging around her longtime crush, Joel, who I really was not a fan of. He had a weird personality and always seemed distant, then suddenly became clingy. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what she saw in him. Because the STAY timeline revolved more about Joel, I didn’t like it too much.
In the GO timeline, Caroline goes to a party to escape her family for the night. I can’t imagine that anyone would make the choice to go in this scenario. Your grandmother is sick and likely going to die soon, but you’re going to jet off to a party? I tried to ignore this cop-out when reading the book, because it really didn’t seem logical (no matter what family drama was happening). I surprisingly enjoyed the GO timeline more than the STAY one. There was more action and better characters (ahem, Chris).
What did I think?
Caroline struck me as kind of selfish regardless of which path she chose. Obviously staying with her sick grandmother and broken family was a little more important, but she still ended up making pretty self-centered decisions after that night anyways. Both the STAY and GO timelines were filled with this behavior. I didn’t like her as a character that much, but a part of me really understood what she was going through. She dealt with insecurities, jealousy, family issues, and friend drama just like any other teenager. I really enjoyed seeing the differences between the two timelines and seeing how her decision impacted not only herself, but other people around her too. Unlike a lot of people who read this book, I didn’t really wonder which timeline she actually chose. I viewed the alternate universes as almost two separate books, if that makes sense. When I got to the end, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. It was PERFECT. It’s hard not to give anything away, but it just ended exactly as it needed to. The moral at the end was really nice and fitting. I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars on my blog.
How about the writing style?
I thought it may be a little confusing with the alternating chapters between STAY and GO, but it really was easy to follow. The little STAY or GO written at the bottom of each page was really helpful too. It was cool how they kind of intersected at times or you could see similar or different events happening to her. It was definitely executed perfectly. She would say things like “I can’t imagine a world where ___,” when that was what was happening in the other timeline!
What would I do?
With most books, I try to put myself in the main character’s shoes. This can sometimes make or break the book for me, because instead of just trying to take the book for what it is, I end up trying to understand their motives fully. I think of what I would do if I were them. In this case, the reader is almost invited to ask themselves: what would I do? I would definitely have stayed with my family. If my grandmother was sick and we weren’t sure how long she would have with us, I would want to make sure I at least had one more conversation with her before she passed away.
Does everything happen for a reason?
I’ve always been a firm believer in fate and “everything happens for a reason.” It may not be clear at the time it happens, but each event in our lives has the opportunity to show us a new lesson or offer us a new opportunity. The decisions we make allow for us to, eventually, make it where we need to be in the end. I’m not sure that each decision actually makes a separate alternate universe – but how cool would it be if that were true?? This book helped me explore these ideas and other alternatives to my way of thinking.
My Parallel Universe Story
When Andi mentioned the possibility of a feature on parallel universe and time travel books, I knew I wanted to join in! I’ve always been interested in the concept of parallel universes. Like this book, I always thought about how every decision we make can create an alternate universe of what the world would look like if we made that decision. This could be any decision, no matter how small. My first introduction to this topic was in an episode of So Weird from my childhood. In it, the main character, Fi, comes downstairs before school and has to choose between orange juice and grapefruit juice (yes, the decision was really that small). An alternate universe is created for each decision. If she picks OJ, she spills it all over herself and runs late to school. She ends up in detention and falls in with a bad crowd. If she picks grapefruit juice, she enjoys her breakfast and heads to school on time. Her life remains essentially the same with her friends and family. This episode piqued my interest in this topic from a young age. Later in life, the concept was discussed in Community. The gang gets together for a game night and Abed discusses that their night could spin off into seven different timelines based on what number he roles on the dice. The episode shows what happens as each character’s number gets rolled. Each timeline ends with Abed mentioning the possibility of other timelines. This is, hands down, the best episode of Community. As you can see, my interest in parallel universes definitely extends beyond books. I’m excited to see what the other bloggers have to say about their movies or books in this genre!
*photos from Google