Meet Cute. New York: Alloy Entertainment, 2018.
Rating: 3.98 out of 5 enchanted finger tattoos that tell you when you’re going to meet your soul mate.
I really did like this collection. The rom com situations were totally cute; they’re like mini Hallmark movies, only more diverse in the race, gender identity, and sexual orientation of their p.o.v. characters — at least on the female side. Out of the fourteen stories in Meet Cute, only two and a half were from a guy’s point of view, and all three guys were cis-het. Which means the cover art is completely misleading, because it implies there’s supposed to be at least one story about two male characters who fall in love. There was not one.
That said, I did find a few really delightful and aww-inspiring stories.
- “Somewhere That’s Green,” by Meredith Russo. Nia is one of the few transgender students at her Nashville high school, and the school board has just agreed to let her use the girls’ facilities. Lexie is the spokesperson for a group of parents and students who are protesting that decision. But at one fateful bonfire, the two girls finally have a face-to-face chat and…yeah, I’m gonna be cliche about this…sparks totally fly.
Both protagonists are very well-rounded and relatable. I may completely disagree with Lexie’s official stances, but as the story progresses, I start to see the cracks in her transphobic facade, and realize she’s not at all a straw anti-LGBT Christian character. And what she does at the end is completely awesome and gutsy, and I’m totally proud of her.
- “Oomph,” by Emery Lord. Two girls meet in the TSA line at JFK, and what follows is about an hour of adorable flirting until they have to get on their separate flights.
Personally, I thought this was the cutest Meet Cute in the collection, and I’m really rooting for “Margaret Carter” and “Natasha Romanoff” to meet up again and go frolicking through New York City together, making up more stories about their respective CIA/FBI intrigues.
- “The Dictionary of You and Me,” by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Ok, no, maybe this was the cutest Meet Cute. I could so see this happening in a Hallmark movie — a girl who works in a library has to repeatedly call a mysterious patron who is months late returning a book. A dictionary, of all things! Who, in 2018, still uses a print dictionary, right? Don’t we all just use Merriam-Webster.com, or Wiktionary? Anyway, the calls are getting more and more fun and flirty, until finally, Mr. H. Smith shows up to return the book, and he’s totally not who Moss expected.
Yes, the protagonist’s name is Moss. Her parents are hippies or something. Or maybe fans of The IT Crowd 🙂
- “The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love,” by Jocelyn Davies. Samara doesn’t believe in love at first sight. She believes in facts and numbers. So when she locks eyes with a stranger on a passing train and inexplicably feels an instant connection, she decides to turn the moment into a project for her statistics class. What are the odds that you can run into the same person twice on the New York subway system?
*does quick Google search* Oh, thank God. That bit about the White House offering girls incentives to NOT pursue STEM careers is just an in-story reality. I hope. I didn’t miss something really horrible in the news, did I?
- “The Way We Love Here,” by Dhonielle Clayton. I had mixed feelings about this one. I did like the idea of the uncertain, could-be-multiple-outcomes destiny, but… First of all, this story is kinda inconsistent about its world building. It’s set on an isolated island where the society believes they’re supposed to let the gods choose their soul mates, but the teens go to a typical American-style high school where they get to date whoever they want.
But more importantly, the protagonist, Viola, is supposed to represent the argument for choice rather than destiny, and yet, in the end, the (narrative) gods decide she must be paired up with someone after all. It’s a love interest forced on someone who would rather decide for herself if she even wants a love interest in her life. Which, ok, I get that you can’t have a Meet Cute story in which the protagonist doesn’t Meet anyone, but maybe she could have decided, This was nice for an hour, but now I’m ready to embark on my happily single adventures like I originally planned. Byeeee!
- “Say Everything,” by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I guess I’m supposed to see this story’s love interest as some noble hero who totally defies his unscrupulous father by dating the girl whose family said father screwed over. But all I see is a creeper who takes a girl on a pity date to an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. He also gives her a huge pity tip at the diner where she works, because, like, your family’s poor now, look how awesome I am giving you a $60 tip! I get it, he really means well, but this just did not come across as a recipe for True Love.
Issues aside, the rom com is a mostly harmless genre, especially now that it’s making room for more diverse love stories. I’m still miffed about the misleading cover art, but the stories I did get to read were mostly fun and made me feel hopeful about the world.
* * * * *
What about you? Have you read any good short stories this month, or any duds you want to rant about? Leave ’em in the comments!