A newly transferred girl at a high school drops all five of her textbooks onto the floor in the bustling hallway. Embarrassed to the point where she feels she could die, she starts to bend down just as she sees a hand reach for the book. She looks up and sees a boy with jet black hair and deep blue eyes. He is the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. “Here you go,” he says, as he hands the book over to her. Blushing, she mumbles a quick “thank you” and dashes away.

This scenario is known as a meet-cute: a charming or amusing first encounter between two future lovers. As cheesy as it sounds and looks, these scenarios, whether they are in the form of movies or books, can make or break the course of a romantic story.

“Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet” is a fictional short story collection of first encounters between young adults compiled by Jennifer L. Armentrout, author of the “Lux” series and “The Problem with Forever.” Popular YA author contributors include Nicola Yoon, Emory Lord, Dhonielle Clayton, and Katherine McGee.

Each story is written by a different author and in a different style. “Siege Etiquette,” the story that starts off the book, fails to interest me with its use of awkward second-person point of view and bizzare plot line. The same point goes for the next story “The Print Shop,” where the pacing dwelled too much on the build-up to the encounter between the two partners. These examples illustrate the potential pitfalls of meet-cute stories, as the author carries the burden of engaging the reader in 15 pages with an interesting plot, Poorly constructed stories can cause a novel to succumb to insta-love, a tired method that can fail to impress without more interesting content to follow.

When done right, however, a successful short story would leave you aching for more interactions between the two characters. “Dictionary of You and Me” tells a meet-cute about a romance found in an overdue dictionary . “The Way We Love Here,” which beautifully builds an intricate world in just a length of a chapter, takes you on a

The stories in “Meet Cute” are all completely different. Some were intriguing while others disappointed with awkward plot developments. They are refreshingly diverse in their inclusions of LGBTQ+ and POC characters, as well as in their discussions of hard-hitting topics like body image. Ultimately, though, I was only thrilled by less than half of the stories.

 

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