Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.
Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.
When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.
Noah is spending the summer with his brother in Colorado while his parents finish their move from Florida to California. This serves as a rather apt metaphor for Noah, who is a trans teen. This summer is his first opportunity to truly be himself, and he plans to make the most of it before he moves on to his new home.
Noah’s first attempt to get a summer job ends disastrously, but that’s where he meets Drew. And maybe it’s just me reading the book as an adult, but Drew seemed to be “too good to be true” from the very beginning. Noah is aware of the red flags, but he doesn’t make a big deal about them because he’s caught up in the romance.
Meanwhile, Noah’s blog is falling apart and his best friend from Miami isn’t responding to his calls and messages.
And then there’s Devin, who Noah meets at his summer camp job. Over the course of the summer, Devin changes pronouns several times, and this is treated as perfectly normal—as it should be. I’m paraphrasing here, but Devin explains that what might seem like indecisiveness is really a fear of everyone’s expectation of “the final form”, like once you pick an identity, you can’t change it again. The poignancy of this resonated with me because it reinforces the notion that identity is fluid. Any changes are due to further self-discovery/reflection, not being “wrong” about who you were before.
I want to give a special shoutout to Noah’s brother Brian, who is an awesome ally. He accepts Noah unconditionally, and he’s always there for him, even if he does think that you can buy binders at Target.
I would absolutely recommend Meet Cute Diary. At the beginning of the book, Noah’s blog is very important to him, but as the story progresses, its importance decreases: Noah is going out into the world and working/socializing with other people, rather than staying home and creating fictional meet-cutes for his blog. And as it turns out, real life—even with the complicated feelings that accompany it—is so much more interesting than fiction. I’m looking forward to reading more from Lee in the future.
I received an ARC of this book from Quill Tree Books/NetGalley.