Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! Today I’m here with a review of one of my most anticipated 2021 releases, and it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed my time reading it, and I know that so many of you are going to love it too! But without any further ado, here’s my review for Emery Lee’s Meet Cute!
Title: The Key to You and Me
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving head-on by taking lessons from a girl in town.
Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.
Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?
Meet Cute Diary follows sixteen-year-old Noah who runs the insanely popular Meet Cute Diary – a tumblr blog showcasing anonymous submissions of trans people finding their happily ever afters. However, all of the stories are fake, and Noah is the one creating them all so that trans readers of the blog can find some hope and comfort in them. But when a troll tries to expose the blog for being fake, Noah panics. He manages to enlist the help of the cute boy who works in a local bookshop, Drew, to fake date him to help come up with cute date content for the blog, but Noah ends up with feelings that are a lot more on the real side.
Straight away when I picked up this book I knew that it was going to be a joy to read! Emery Lee’s writing style is fun and witty and truly befitting the voice of a teenager. It is so important to me, and I’m sure to many other trans and nonbinary readers, that this is definitely not a book about trans trauma – there is some mention of transphobia in the book, though it really takes a back seat to the story, and instead we are given a book full of joy and love and hope!
The characters in this book all feel real, and they all have their messy, far from perfect moments. The main character Noah is so obsessed with the idea of happily ever afters and finding love, that at times they become self-obsessed and more worried about their problems than other people’s. His best friend, Becca, is so supportive of Noah but they’ve been best friends for so long that she doesn’t know how to be her own person when they are separated. Drew is kind and adventurous but can also be very selfish. And then there’s Devin, a nonbinary character alongside whom Noah ends up working, who is so selfless and sweet, but oftentimes forgets to rely on others and open emself up to others. I’ve seen some reviewers critiquing the characters for this, but I think that it helps make the story all that more realistic, because they’re teenagers, they’re growing and figuring themselves out, so of course they’re not going to be perfect human beings, and it just makes the story that bit more interesting!
As I mentioned before, this book is so full of trans joy and happiness, and I want to focus on the representation in this book specifically! Noah is triracial (white, Japanese and Afro-Caribbean) and a trans guy, and he has a very accepting family and friend group which, honestly, is so refreshing to see in YA literature! His older brother is so unbelievably proud and supportive of him (and is also a huge himbo, which I love to see) and his allyship is plain to see! Becca, Noah’s best friend, is a lesbian (she explicitly calls herself a lesbian in the book) and there is some discussion on a feminism group that a girl she is interested in is in, and about TERF ideology (though I do think that it could have been handled a tad bit better as it seemed to be tarring everyone with the same brush). Devin is nonbinary and throughout the book e changes eir pronouns several times to figure out what fits em best – and the discussion on this is so comforting to see, especially when Noah tells em that eir pronouns are eir business only and that e doesn’t have to consider anyone else’s comfort when figuring out what is most comfortable. I also really appreciated the discussion on realising that you may have been wrong about your identity and being scared to try out, for example new pronouns, for fear of not being taken seriously, or being stuck with your old identity. There was also a really sweet bit in the book when Devin and Noah are working at a summer camp and they’re going round and introducing themselves with their pronouns and something they enjoy and the kids are saying their pronouns and one says “I’m Bailey. I pronounce she, and Moana!” – it was such a lovely part of the book that showed that the kids didn’t find anything strange about it and were super enthusiastic, and I loved seeing it!
I did have a couple of minor issues with the book, which is why I did dock a star, though some are more personal issues that I know will not be a problem for other readers! First up is Becca’s storyline, which I did briefly mention earlier. Becca mentions that she was dating this girl that Noah recognises is part of a feminist group at their school, though many in the group are notorious for being rather transphobic. Becca tells Noah that the girl she was dating was very much for the inclusion of trans women in their feminism and was trying to convince the group of her viewpoint, but Noah continuously called her a TERF and was mad at Becca for this too. I felt a bit uncomfortable about this because as a lesbian I frequently see lesbianism being linked to TERFs and tarring us all with the same brush, when it is a cis people problem, not specifically a lesbian problem. Despite Becca saying that the girl she was in a relationship with was definitely not a TERF, Noah kept on treating Becca as if she was some sort of TERF apologist herself, and it really felt like it was that whole lesbian=TERF nonsense all over again. I also don’t think that Noah truly apologised to Becca correctly for how he acted towards her (not only referring to this) at the end of the book and that overall she deserved better.
Another minor point is the use of femme in the book. Femme is a lesbian specific gender expression term that is often used interchangeably with fem. The fact that it is lesbian specific is important to note, as for people who aren’t lesbians, fem is the appropriate terminology, or feminine-presenting. In the book there is a line where Noah arrives at a party and says that there are “Six mascs, two femmes, probably all cis judging by the jock vibe they’re giving off” attending. I may be wrong, but I think that masc is also queer terminology, and I think that using masculine/feminine presenting may be better terminology to be using in this situation, as I know that it is important to not judge anyone’s gender based on their looks, but this just felt a bit heavy handed to me.
Regardless of these two points, I really enjoyed my time reading this book and absolutely flew through the second half! I’m so happy to see more books about trans joy being published and I know that this book is going to mean so much to so many people!