Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Me I Meant To Be by Sophie Jordan

* * * * 1/2

Girl Code: Never date a friend’s ex.

Willa Evans has no intention of breaking the code. So what if she’s always secretly loved her next-door neighbor Zach? As her best friend’s boyfriend, he was always off-limits and it needs to stay that way, even though they just broke up. Even though every time she turns around he’s there, tempting her…
No keeping secrets from your bestie.

Flor Hidalgo has a lot on her plate: her breakup with Zach, her dad’s new dating life, and her struggling grades. So why can’t she stop thinking about her hot, know-it-all tutor? At least she’s got Willa, her constant in the chaos.
Breaking the code breaks friendships.
Two friends find themselves tempted by love that defies the rules in this steamy romance perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Simone Elkeles.

Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review

I absolutely enjoyed Sophie Jordan's latest YA offering because this one focused on a theme that I can relate to and am witnessing right now through my two teens: the changing nature of friendships.

Willa and Flor have been besties for a long time and have seen each other through ups and downs. While Willa likes to be in the background, Flor is the more popular friend at the forefront. But things are slowly changing. Flor recently broke up with Zach who happens to be Willa's nextdoor neighbor so it kind of puts her in an awkward situation. While Flor is fixated on why Zach broke things off with her and how she can win him back, Willa's just trying to work out how she can remain friends with both of them and also loyal to Flor. And because of her loyalty and their friendship, Willa has made a silent vow to herself to never allow her long held secret crush on Zach to go any further than that. Flor's way of coping is to create the Girl Code, a set of rules that girlfriends should adhere to in order to support each other and lift each other up. Poor Willa feeling treacherous inside, although Flor isn't faring any better because she's developing strange feelings for her math tutor, Grayson who is the exact opposite of Zach and who shouldn't even be occupying space in her head when she's trying to get back together with him.

Each chapter is headed by a Girl Code entry that has a tie-in to that chapter. It's quite cute. With the POV switching between Willa and Flor there's an abundance of emotion, confusion, angst and flirting flying about. I love how well Jordan handles both their stories, giving them equal time. She treats their friendship delicately - which it is at the moment - while also showing how Willa and Flor are gradually diverging on their own paths. The matter of loyalty is constantly brought up, as is the idea of family and what that should mean. Willa and Flor are each experiencing changes within their families and I can say that what's going on with Flor's astounded me. 

There is a third friend in the mix, Jenna whose story isn't delved into. I wish there could've been a way to flesh out her storyline as well but I can also see why Jordan just kept it to the two main girls. Jenna's brief appearances do initiate the topic of self-acceptance, and the painful reality of how how hard it can be to be honest with your family about something you've come to know about yourself. 

I fell in love with this book and its honesty about the inevitable changes that come with simply growing older. Even though boys are in the picture for Willa and Flor, The Me I Meant to Be is truly about the girls' friendship, growth and acceptance. Girl Code is important but it's also just a guide. Any friendship will face its test but it rests on the individuals involved to see that their friendship survives. 

~ Bel

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