One of my all-time favorite authors has a new book out this week and I am so excited to be reviewing it! Before I get to my review, read on for a bit about the book.
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Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, romance
Release date: June 8, 2021
Synopsis: “A wedding harpist disillusioned with love and a hopeless romantic cater-waiter flirt and fight their way through a summer of weddings in this effervescent romantic comedy from the acclaimed author of Today Tonight Tomorrow.
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 is a sweet YA rom-com set in the wedding industry that also touches on complicated families, questions of the future, and mental health. Quinn’s family runs a wedding-planning business and Tarek parents are caterers, which means the two have grown up together in the Seattle wedding world. But last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on Tarek–only to have him leave for college without a response. Now it’s a year later, and Tarek is back for the summer. As the two keep clashing at wedding after wedding, Quinn is forced to confront her lingering feelings for Tarek and her uncertain future.
Quinn and Tarek are total opposites, and I loved watching them try to figure out how to fit into each other’s lives. Tarek is a hopeless romantic and is always planning huge grand gestures, but Quinn has a much more fraught relationship with love because of her parents’ rocky relationship. She’s not quite sure she believes in love anymore and shies away from letting anyone get too close. I really appreciated that the romance between Quinn and Tarek dealt with themes of healing and forgiveness.
We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is a romance, but it’s also a story about reimagining your future, discovering & rediscovering passions, and coming into your own. Quinn feels a lot of pressure to keep things running smoothly, both in her family’s wedding planning business and in her parents’ marriage, and she’s afraid to tell her parents that she doesn’t want to work for their company. Her parents’ constant pressure has soured the love she once had for the harp, but when she begins to learn the art of harp-making, she starts to imagine new possibilities. Now, she’s questioning what she wants her future to look like and if she’ll ever really have the freedom to find her own way.
One of my absolute favorite things about Rachel’s books is the thoughtful, nuanced Jewish representation. Quinn and her family, as well as several background/supporting characters, are Jewish. Throughout the book, there is a subplot about Quinn’s older sister Asher getting married; through her engagement, Asher is beginning to explore her Jewish identity and becoming more observant. As a non-observant Jew who values my cultural Jewish identity, I really loved this subplot that shows there’s no one right way to be Jewish, and that all Jewish experiences are equally valid.
In addition to the Jewish representation, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This also includes some other valuable rep. Tarek is Egyptian-American, and there were several supporting characters who were queer and/or BIPOC. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This also has mental health rep including OCD, anxiety, and depression. I especially loved the conversations around Quinn’s OCD, since this is a disorder that is often misrepresented in the media and widely misunderstood. While We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is certainly a romance at heart, it thoroughly tackles mental illness stigma, normalizes mental health treatment, and deconstructs stereotypes about OCD.
Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of my favorite authors for so many reasons: the witty voices she creates, the authentically messy characters, and the palpable tension and chemistry she crafts between characters. Quinn and Tarek both felt like fully fleshed out characters who both have dreams, fears, and traumas, and I loved how different they were. Quinn had such a strong sense of voice, and I literally laughed out loud at multiple points while reading. I especially adored the little nods to rom-coms like Sleepless in Seattle throughout the book. The summer weddings setting gave the book a romantic, whimsical atmosphere, while the themes of mental health, familial expectations, and fears of the future created balance–making We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This everything I look for in a YA contemporary.
We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year (as Rachel’s books always are, if we’re being honest) and it was everything I wanted and more. It’s a must-read if you like rom-coms, the opposite attracts trope, or stories set in the wedding industry. As I type this, I’m sitting at my window waiting not-so-patiently for my pre-ordered copy to arrive so I can finally have it on my shelves. I’ll be recommending We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This to fans of Marisa Kanter, Kristina Forest, or Gloria Chao–while I count the days until another gem from Rachel.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for the review copy!