For all the super-romantics who live 98% of their lives in those scenarios in their heads.
Meet Cute Diary starts with Noah, a trans blogger who writes potential meet-cutes he could have, if not for his awkwardness. *Cue the fake dating, relationship lists, and lots of “of course we’re a real couple!” selfies.* And it all started with a
letter blog post.
Thank you to the author and publisher for providing us with ARCs in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Meet Cute Diary
Author: Emery Lee
Publication Date: May 4 2021
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Age Range and Genre: YA contemporary, rom-com
Representation: trans protagonist, nonbinary characters
Content warnings: anxiety and panic attacks, transphobia, manipulative relationships
Synopsis: 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, Noah meets Drew, and everything falls into place: Drew will 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.
From the beginning, I wanted to love Noah; he dreams up his own world and blogs about it to give other trans people hope for romance! And for the first 10%, I was amused by Noah’s ability to dream up these scenarios almost on the spot (I mean honestly, if I could do that, we’d be churning out content like butter). As much as I wanted to love it 100%, I found that I couldn’t stop sighing. And I mean, let’s be honest, Noah’s 16 and we were all annoying teens to some degree. However, the more I read, the more iffy I became. At the end of the day, I finished because I needed to know if got better, and was unfortunately disappointed.
Of the things we did like about this story, Devin and Brian were at the top of the list. Brian’s support of Noah is the most basic standard for brotherly decency, and he does it as best he can. And Devin, bless em, is just the most considerate person in the whole book. While e does have eir own flaws, there’s a sense of comfort that comes with Devin learning to work through them. When it comes to Noah, I feel like he’s almost the direct opposite; he comes off as selfish, entitled, and incapable of expanding his worldview.
Oh Noah, where to begin? Yes, he had his moments where I almost liked him, but that’s the word I kept coming back to: almost. Noah supported Devin in eir journey in figuring out eir pronouns, and he came through when it mattered. As great as that was, it wasn’t enough for me. Among his flaws, Noah couldn’t see past his own feelings most of the time, nor could he see past the windows of his many rideshares. First off, he spends a ridiculous amount of money for these meet-cute scenes for the blog because he refuses to walk more than a mile. Then, he throws a fit when his parents freeze his credit card and tell him to get a job. And at first I understood his imaginative and idealistic perspective on the world, but it was mixed with a detachment that left him romanticizing a walking red flag.
Which brings us to Drew. I don’t wanna spend much time on this relationship Noah and Drew have, but it was so disheartening to watch it unfold. As someone who knows what manipulative relationships look like, I think readers deserve a more nuanced discussion about what happened. For all his flaws, Noah also deserved better, and I think having that conversation with someone else might’ve helped him grow. All that said because eventually, Noah has to learn to differentiate between truth and fiction, especially when it comes to people.
Overall, the tone of the story was fairly light and had lots of rom-com vibes. I loved the premise, and wanted to love the story, but I think the combination of things juuust missed the mark for me. I definitely prefer the first half over the last because of its humorous overromanticization and things, but as a whole I don’t think it worked; romanticizing people can be fine, but overdoing it is dangerous. Despite all that, here’s hoping Lauren and I get a Brian or Devin-dedidcated spinoff in the future!
If you would like to read Meet Cute Diary on your own, you can add it on goodreads! In addition, you can also find it at the following links.