November 6, 2013 by Alice in Readerland
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…
Special thanks to ARCycling for sending me this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
A bit ago, there was a quiz being passed around my group of friends called the Where In History Should You Time Travel To? Quiz. My friends were getting cool places like the far future, the Renaissance, and everywhere inbetween. But when I took the quiz, I was a bit surprised when I didn’t get a time period, I got one of the “hidden” results: “According to my personality,” it said that I should travel to a parallel universe, because I’m more interested in the question What If? than When?
When I thought about it, I supposed the quiz was right. So when I saw that Just Like Fate dealt with two “different” stories about what would happen to a girl if she answered “Stay” versus her answering “Go” I was very excited. Here’s what I really enjoyed:
The Main Character
Caroline’s character felt real, and her reactions and emotions made me think that she was one of the most realistic characters I’ve read about all year. She screws things up, she tries to fix things, and she runs away. She needs to learn to fight for herself, she’s in so much grief over her Grandmother’s death, and she alternates between acting like a coward and between hating herself. We aren’t looking at a mean girl, or a Mary Sue, or a “fighter,” or the girl-next-door, or any other stereotype. Caroline felt so real and flawed, yet redeemable, that I thought that all her thoughts were captured perfectly; that really made me appreciate her as a character.
The Two Different Timelines
I already mentioned this, didn’t I? Oh, well, I’m giving it it’s own section because I liked it so much. Watching the same dates/big events (how Caroline meets her boyfriend, to what happens at a certain concert, to visiting her estranged dad) and comparing how they differed, what could have gone so differently, was really cool. There are so many things I want to say (but so many include spoilers, so I won’t) about the two different timelines. But basically, I liked the conclusion that they both reached in the end.
There are so many book endings out there that irk me to no end! Especially the open ended ones. But the ending for Just Like Fate really worked for me, and I couldn’t think of another way to end it better. Again, I can’t say much because of spoilers, but I liked how the authors brought out that, yes, we all end up where we’re “meant to be,” but we also have free will. Different choices shape us, and hopefully, teach us.
In My Alternate Timeline, Where I’m More Cynical Cindy:
I had two problems with this book. They were:
1) Caroline knows that her Grandmother, who she is said to be very close to and views like a parent, is on her deathbed. But, in one story, Caroline leaves to go to a party anyway. My Grandfather, who I was very close to, passed away two months ago, and I went through a month of being by his bedside. So let me tell you this: If you’re that close, you don’t leave. You stay. You stay and you take care of them while they’re in hospice and on their deathbed.
You. Don’t. Leave. Them.
So that part basically going:
But I would like to note: I don’t think the authors were glorifying this choice, Caroline thought she’d be back in just a couple hours, her grandmother was passed out, and she felt terrible and had to deal with the aftermath. She felt guilty, she was depressed, and she hated herself so much she didn’t even want to look in the mirror. So it’s not like her decision didn’t have consequences.
2. I think the book was supposed to read like this, so it’s not really the book’s fault as it’s a just-not-my-thing fault: Half of the ‘Go’ storyline felt like a feel-good contemporary light romance and half felt like a realistic, “issue” depressing book. Same with the ‘Stay’ storyline. So this book felt split in half just as much as Caroline’s timelines were. Again, I think it was supposed to be this way, but it didn’t really gel with me.
Despite these complaints, I really enjoyed reading Just Like Fate. I appreciated how Caroline’s emotions felt so real, I loved seeing the “what if” storylines, and the ending felt perfect. So if you’re someone who is interested in alternate timelines/parallel universe/fate stories, I’d definitely give this one a shot.
Who knows, maybe in an alternate timeline of mine, I’ve told you that already.