Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on 8th June 2021
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Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company.
At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response.
Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman.
Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher.
Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.
‘We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This’ seems to fit more into the ‘coming-of-age’ sort of book, as Quinn Berkowitz stars off by finding herself at a crossroads between doing what her family has always expected her to do (be in the wedding-planning business) or follow what she wants for herself (still indeterminate). Throw an unrequited crush into the mix—a crush that apparently ghosted her while he went off to college—and there is that perfect storm in a teacup situation happening.
The reality as revealed, is obviously one more layered and nuanced than that.
Enter Tarek Mansour, who turns out to be one of the sweetest, cliche-loving and most romantic (yet not spineless) male protagonist who steals the show by the end of the story.
But Solomon also pitches what I envision a pre-college girl to be like perfectly: there’s something so incredibly wobbly about Quinn and her part self-absorbed, self-obsessing and wry observations about her own motivations and feelings. Hyper-aware, somewhat neurotic in certain matters, sarcastic with that kind of collective teenage smart-arsery that sort of flows along with the ‘woke’ crowd, Quinn seems to slide into or rather, represents this cusp-of-adulthood moment as well as it can get. But she’s also flighty, somewhat cruel and cynical after having grown up in the wedding business and simultaneously wants to yet can’t believe in the idea of romance.
As an NA/YA read, I can see this story’s appeal towards younger readers perhaps; the issues that Solomon writes into the book held me captive more than the actual ‘growing-up’ story itself, which Quinn’s own love story almost takes a back seat to.
Solomon’s sharp, incisive writing bleeds into the dialogue making the characters sound a lot older than they are though, inevitably fuelling the plot via some relentless digging into emotions and heavier-hitting themes that appear in more ‘adult-centric’ stories. That it’s got a HFN and somewhat rushed ending is probably the book’s weakest point, one that seemed rather nostalgic and uncertain after the emotional investment that it demands of a reader.