i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
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.
trigger warnings: mentions of suicide, misgendering, transphobia
ahhh guys, as much as i wanted to like meet cute diary, i have very conflicted feelings about it.
the messy: the story was messy. on the one hand, i really appreciated the messiness because it brought out the characters’ weaknesses – noah’s obsession with fame, drew’s manipulativeness and selfishness, becca’s need to find her own identity separate from noah, and devin’s self-doubt. it really helped paint a clear image of every character and made everything seem very authentic. but on the other, it made for a poor reading experience – it was hard to follow the storyline at times and had me so confused about who i was supposed to be rooting for.
the annoying: noah is the WORST main character, and let me elaborate on how so. i could not get past how immature and self-obsessed he is – he complains about having to get a job, he stays in a failing relationship because he wants to keep his tumblr followers interested in his blog, and he expects his best friend to be readily available to listen to his whining 24/7. as the story progresses, there is some minuscule amount of character development, but it really is minuscule and left me feeling very dissatisfied.
the romance: before reading meet cute diary, i was so excited for it and so sure that i was going to like it because it had my favorite trope – fake turned real dating. however, in my opinion, it was not done properly – at the beginning, instead of getting the fake relationship that is expected, readers are thrown into a very confusing whirlwind romance. there is absolutely no prior chemistry between drew and noah before they get together – it was just BAM, stage a fake relationship to cover the fact that noah is lying to his thousands of followers, and all of a sudden, drew and noah are kissing in private and doing other things that normal couples do, even when they are out of the public eye. there is no real transition of the “fake” relationship becoming real.
the representation: for certain parts of the book, i would give 2/10 without any hesitation, but the representation is 10/10. meet cute diary features a very diverse cast of characters: the main character, noah, is multiracial and transgender. we also have devin, who is transgender and genderqueer, and becca, who is lesbian. the thought that many young queer readers will be able to see themselves in this book brings me so much joy, and it also paves the way for some important and much-needed discussion, to be further elaborated on in the next paragraph.
the discussion: this book discusses pronouns, particularly neopronouns and the changing of pronouns. in the book, devin experiments with different pronouns – he/him, they/them, xe/xem, and e/em – and it shows that it is completely okay for us to try out different labels before settling with one that we are completely comfortable with, and that it is solely our business so we should not let the possibility of other people feeling uncomfortable with it get into the way. neopronoun rep is also something i rarely see in novels, especially young adult.
devin: devin gets his own paragraph because he is the sweetest and most special character in the book. you know, the kind of person that never gets mad at anyone and genuinely cares about everyone? that is devin.
overall, while i was not able to completely enjoy the book, it definitely has some stand-out features which i just mentioned above. reading it by the poolside with alice et moi’s t’aimerais que ce soit vrai will make for the perfect summer activity 🙂
have you read meet cute diary? did you like it? let me know in the comments below!