Meant to Be by Emily Giffin, 4.5 Stars

The Kingsley family is American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. In 1967, after Joseph S. Kingsley, Jr. is killed in a tragic accident, his charismatic son inherits the weight of that legacy. But Joe III is a free spirit—and a little bit reckless. Despite his best intentions, he has trouble meeting the expectations of a nation, as well as those of his exacting mother, Dottie.

Meanwhile, no one ever expected anything of Cate Cooper. She, too, grew up fatherless—and after her mother marries an abusive man, she is forced to fend for herself. After being discovered by a model scout at age sixteen, Cate decides that her looks may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, Cate’s face is in magazines and on billboards. Yet she feels like a fraud, faking it in a world to which she’s never truly belonged.

When Joe and Cate unexpectedly cross paths one afternoon, their connection is instant and intense. But can their relationship survive the glare of the spotlight and the so-called Kingsley curse? In a beautifully written novel that captures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells the story of two people searching for belonging and identity, as well as the answer to the question: Are certain love stories meant to be?

Advanced Praise for Meant to Be:

“A dependably down-to-earth, girlfriendly storyteller.”The New York Times

“[A] modern-day Jane Austen.”Vanity Fair

“Giffin’s writing is true, smart, and heartfelt.”Entertainment Weekly

“Giffin [has a] trademark ability to capture the complexities of human emotions while telling a rip-roaring tale.”The Washington Post

“Giffin is a worldwide bestselling author because she gets under your skin—by creating relatable characters wrestling within believable situations.”The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

My Review:

I love Emily Giffin. And I LOVED Meant to Be. Like many people, I’ve always been fascinated by America’s royalty, The Kennedy Family. And I didn’t even realize when I picked it up that Meant to Be was a thinly veiled version of JFK Jr. and Caroline Besset’s romance. Yes, there are many differences between their true life story and those of Joseph and Cate in the book, but I just found the book to be so satisfying and so much fun to read.

Joseph and Cate are very different. One grew up in extreme privilege. Another grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive household. And then there’s Berry, Joseph’s best friend who was orphaned and kind of adopted by Josephs’ mom. The only thing all three have in common is that they all lost a parent at a young age.

Meant to Be will give you all the feels. I still look back on that fateful plane crash and think about the “Kennedy Curse.” Yes, America lost two sweethearts that night. But they also lost a potential leader. Someone who could have made a difference. That still feels heavy to me. Special thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review. This one is out now!

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