Meet Cute Diary By Emery Lee Contemporary YA May 4th, 2021 by Quill Tree Books Reviewed by Melinda
I love the hell out of this concept. A teen has come out as trans recently and his brother has a little too enthusiastically embraced this fact, and they spend the summer in Denver together. Noah runs the Meet Cute Diary blog where he posts trans meet cutes and presents them as true HEAs. He begins to have online people come after the diary at the same time this summer – and the book – begins.
I had to remind myself repeatedly that Noah was a teenager and teens can be, and often are, annoying because I really disliked him. He comes off as entitled so, so many times. When his credit card is cut off he is so disgusted at his mother daring to tell him to get a job and is appalled at the idea he should walk to work instead of taking Ubers. When he texts his brother to pick him up there is no discussion beforehand, there is only ‘pick me up’, and at the response of it will be a while, Noah is SO. Annoyed. But my main issue is that this behavior continues throughout, with everyone he meets. There is no growth from this, only self-centered, ungrateful behavior. I understand that teens are self-centered! But I read quite a bit of YA and I couldn’t get past this part because it’s never checked or called out at all.
However, the side characters are so great. I love Devin, e questioning eir gender before, during, and after the book and e’re also just a delightful human. Just the brief glimpses we get of them was so great and I wanted more every time. I thought the space Noah gave Devin to explore things was such a refreshing thing to see! We get to see multiple discussions around the two of them trying to figure out which pronouns are appropriate for Devin to use and the way Noah is just like sure, okay, was beautiful to see. I also really enjoyed Noah’s relationship with his best friend, Becca, which was complex and added depth to Noah’s character. Noah’s brother, who he lives with, is supportive but also an obnoxious normal brother. I loved that this book didn’t have almost anything to do with transphobia – Devin’s backstory does mention it briefly, but the main plot has nothing to do with it. Noah’s family is accepting and kind. I love that they’re all accepting of him, his queerness, and his transness. That this is just a part of him and they’re working on his pronouns was just delightful to read.
There are 2 main conflicts that were left unresolved that bothered me because they featured so heavily in the plot. The plot with the Diary was the basis for Noah’s whole being – that he wanted to provide trans people with a beacon of hope and show that trans people could have HEAs, which I love. He was becoming obsessed with it, which I could understood since he had worked so hard on it. I appreciated how the resolution with the actual diary came about but the middle part was thin on details on how we got there. The actual plot line of the online trolls felt completely unresolved. The other one is the main romantic interest for most of the book – Drew. He verged on creepily into Noah but I could understand why he liked him so much. But there is no resolution to their relationship – for a character to be so present in the book and then disappear I didn’t necessarily expect a redemption for him, but I did expect at least a reason? To not get one left me feeling oddly unsettled.
There is just a ton of potential in this book. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to teens. It’s cute, and light, and overall good. I’d rec reading it just for all the wonderful side characters.
CW: mentions of suicide
Grade: B –