The Plot (from Goodreads):
The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.
No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.
When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.
In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it… and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong.
Thank you to @Booksparks for gifting me this copy of MEANT TO BE as part of their #SRC2022 book tour!
The best part of being a #BooksparksAmbassador is the opportunity to read books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. I’m not normally the biggest historical fiction fan, but MEANT TO BE was the perfect compromise of historical fiction-lite and romance. It’s loosely based on the love story of JFK Jr and Carolyn, and takes to story to a fun imagining of what their life could have been.
I didn’t realize the connection at first, and without that knowledge, the book just reads like a romance. MEANT TO BE is a soulmates/star-crossed lovers story, and I enjoyed that it started with Cate and Joe’s separate lives before they met. Both characters were very well developed outside of their romance. Towards the middle, it leaned towards more of a miscommunication trope, which is always somewhat frustrating to read.
MEANT TO BE alternates between Joe and Cate’s POVs, often repeating the same scene from the other perspective. This was very well-done, and it was nice to see both opinions on the important scenes!
I will say that the epilogue wasn’t my favorite. The political aspect seemed kind of awkward and forced, and I think we could have done without it. It felt like it was driving it home that this was John and Carolyn, which at this point was obvious and didn’t need to be reinforced. The epilogue was choppy, didn’t fit with the rest of the story, and felt like it was written by someone else entirely!
I actually read some Emily Giffin books like the Something Borrowed series in early high school, but she has since fallen off my radar. I’m so glad I had the nudge to pick this one up, and I’m interested in going back and reading any I might have missed!
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