While “Flirting with Fate” by J. C. Cervantes is a young adult fantasy about love and fate, it’s not quite as light and frothy as that might indicate. It’s a touching story, and I actually needed a tissue as I finished reading it because of the evocation of strong emotions at the ending. As might be surmised from the title, the story is about the fickle nature of fate, and whether there is something like destiny and “meant to be.”
Ava, our main character, does not believe in fate. She does not believe that anything is “meant to be.” Life must be lived according to her own rules, her own determinations, and in that quest she wants to be a journalist, documenting facts, protecting herself from the magical and the mystical. Yet her beloved grandmother Nana came from a line of women who, upon their deathbed, bestowed a gift, a blessing, upon those female descendants in attendance at their deaths. But when a storm and a car accident prevent Ava from being there at her Nana’s deathbed, she misses getting her blessing. Instead, misdirected, that blessing ends up with someone else.
Ava soon learns that missing her blessing is much more serious than she could have realized. There are repercussions that affect more than just Ava. So Ava, with the help of her Nana (who is a ghost) and her Nana’s spiritual mentor, a minor saint, must take back the blessing from its unwitting recipient. But as we soon realize (pay attention to the clues Cervantes sprinkles along the way), everything is connected. There is a reason that the blessing went astray. There is a reason that Ava’s Nana left her family when she was a young woman, taking her son and raising him herself. There is a reason for everything that happens in this carefully constructed tale that is both magical and inspiring. We see people devastated by missed connections, by lost opportunities and by guilt. We also see forgiveness and love and the healing nature of time.
“Flirting with Fate” is a novel that will appeal to those who enjoy a mystery, a romance, a tale of friendship and family. It’s not inappropriate for a middle school reader and will be enjoyed by many young adult readers.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Razorbill, the publisher, for review purposes.