A story typically only tells one side. There is the set up, the problem then the solution. What if a book tackled a problem by offering two different solutions? The book’s protagonist would have different outcomes from their choice.
Caroline Cabot is facing the toughest decision of her life. While her family wants her to stay by her Gram’s side as she is dying due to a stroke, her friend, Simone, insists she has stayed by her side enough and nothing bad could happen if Caroline leaves for a couple hours to attend a party. Caroline is forced to make a decision that may change her life.
Cat Patrick, the book’s author, allows Caroline’s decision to take two paths, in alternating chapters titled “Stay” and “Go”, the aftermath of each decision unfolds. On one side Caroline decides to stay with her grandmother and be with her in her last moments. The other side shows Caroline going to the party with her sister calling her selfish for leaving. By showing how a small action can change one’s life, “Just Like Fate” takes a young girl’s split choice into a reality.
Patrick writes a legitimate story not holding back when showing family drama and the fights in a relationship. When Caroline and the boy she meets argue, it is heartbreaking but true. If Caroline’s sister calls her names, the reader feels as though they are being yelled at. Since the book is easy to connect to, these instances make it more personal. Everything Caroline goes through is realistic to what a teen may face, which is respectable.
The book is a simple teen romance with plenty of storyline turns. What makes it special is the ever-changing story. By splitting it into ‘stay’ and ‘go’, Patrick delivers two stories in one. The book starts with Caroline realizing her Grandmother’s situation and after the first chapters it switches into ‘stay’ or ‘go’ by alternating chapters. By doing this, it truly brings the question ‘How can one path lead you down two different roads?’ into light.
First, is ‘stay’. Caroline tells Simone that she will stay with her family and help them grieve when her grandmother eventually passes. Over the next chapters, Caroline grows closer to her family members since they are all struggling to get over their loss.
She also talks to the boy she has had a crush on for years. These two events alone cause readers to believe that her decision to stay must be right, but then there is ‘go’ causing that theory to crumble.
In ‘go’, Caroline has the night of her life. She bumps into an intriguing college student who flirts and jokes with her throughout the night. Unfortunately, Caroline gets a call regarding her grandmothers condition and feels as though her whole family is upset she left. Caroline decides her home life may need to change but her personal life thrives when she sees the humorous college boy again.
Each person Caroline meets has a profound effect on her life whether they come to her when she stays or goes. In each side, there is a boy who readers fall in love with but they are so different it is hard to say who is perfect for her. Can it be the one who she has known her whole life but pressures her to be someone she isn’t or the one that makes her so happy but who has a shady past. Also raised into question between the two stories is her relationship with Simone and sister or one with her brother and father. Since Patrick presents both sides, “Just Like Fate” shows every positive and negative to one decision.
Full of feel good moments showing the envious love two teens can share to the heartbreaking fights, “Just Like Fate” is worth the read. By choosing to stay with her ailing grandmother or going out for the night, Caroline shows how two differing options may still lead to the same ending.