I love Susane Colsanti’s books for the sole reason that they take me back to what it was like to be in high school without having to, you know, actually be in high school. Her books really capture the realities of being a teenager without making them completely shallow, which I’ve really appreciated because it makes her characters seem more real and more relatable. Something Like Fate is no exception. This is a book that, at its most basic, is about as angsty as it can get, but it’s also so much more than that.
Lani and Erin are lifelong best friends — and total opposites. Lani’s a down-to-earth Taurus; Erin’s a fiery Leo. Lani likes to do her own thing; Erin prefers an entourage. They’ve always had wildly different tastes, from pizza toppings to guys.
That is, until Erin starts dating Jason. From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can’t deny the amazing connection she feels with him. It’s like they’ve known each other their whole lives. She’s not sure if he feels it, too — but even if he does, he’s off-limits. Lani’s determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than hurt her best friend. Then Erin goes away for the summer — and Jason seems to appear everywhere Lani turns. How long can she keep running from the guy who just might be the love of her life?
This is always a hard plot to read. It can especially be hard to read for the girl who is picking a boy above a lifelong friendship. But, for me, this book sort of transcended (I love that word so much) that basic plot. Ultimately it wasn’t a story about how a boy got between two friends: it was a story about how time got between two friends. People aren’t going to be the same at 16 that they were at 8, just like no one is the same at 24 as they were at 16. It’s easy to cling to friendships you’ve always had because they’re easy and comfortable and you’re used to them. But people grow apart. It doesn’t mean you aren’t friends and that you won’t always love each other, it just means that you’re different and you don’t have as much in common as you once did. Maybe it takes a boy to recognize that, or maybe it’s something else. But I couldn’t fault Lani 100% for what happened.
What really helped this feeling for me was how clear the chemistry was between Lani and Jason. It felt like an irresistible tug for me as a reader, and so I understood what Lani did better than I might have otherwise. Jason was such a great character all on his own, but he was also a great compliment for Lani. You could see that she seemed more herself around him and Blake, her best friend (who had a whole plot to himself that broke my heart – and really, that was my biggest complaint about this book, that I thought Blake’s story deserved more attention than it got).
Did I think OMG SOULMATES when I read their story? Not necessarily, but I did see how it was a possibility. Sometimes I’m a sucker for these stories because I did happen to marry my high school boyfriend, and we’ve been together for ten years. It can happen. But really, that’s not the point. The point isn’t that they’re soulmates. And the point isn’t that this is fate. It’s that it’s something LIKE fate (ha, see what I did there?). The point is that, right then, at that moment, Lani feels that this is HER guy.
Lani wasn’t perfect. And what she did wasn’t gold star worthy, by any means. She clings so hard to her friendship with Erin at times that she’s giving up not just what she wants but who she wants to be. And Erin was certainly not the world’s greatest friend. Really though, it wasn’t until after the she found out what Lani had done that she morphed into a vindictive psycho, which I also found to be pretty real. In high school, relationships feel like life or death. I hated what Erin did, and I hated why she did it. And in a lot of ways I hated how Lani accepted her apology and how Erin accepted Lani’s. But I don’t think it was about an apology so much as saying goodbye. Recognizing that they’ll always have their friendship but that they’ve changed and it’s changed along with them. It was perhaps more mature than either of them had proven to be, but I was kind of ok with that in the end.
I liked this book because it was real. It was hard to read because it was hard for Lani to deal with what she was dealing with and it was hard for her to come to terms with what she had done and what it meant. And that’s why I loved it – it made me feel what Lani felt. I think that’s Susane Colsanti’s big strength, and it really made this novel shine for me.