Does fate determine whom we are destined to spend our lives with, or is it simply chance? In “Meant to Be Mine,” Hannah Orenstein’s delightful romance forces main character Edie Meyer to consider that very question. Edie’s grandmother Gloria has correctly predicted the date on which all her family members will meet their bashert, which is Yiddish for the true love that is meant to happen. She predicted her own meeting with Edie’s Grandfather Ray, and the couple was blissful for many decades of marriage.
Edie’s twin sister Rae has met her true love and they are finally getting engaged after over a decade together. Now Edie’s date is approaching, and she has spent years wondering and dreaming about what this meet would be like. Edie is so sure of her grandmother’s ability that she ended a relationship with a boyfriend whom she truly loved, because she knew he couldn’t be “the one,” since they didn’t meet on the “magic date.” She still wonders if ending it was the right decision — she still thinks about him and misses him.
When she does, indeed, meet someone on that magical date, Edie is convinced that Theo is “the one.” He is a musician, and together they work in the creative arts. She envisions a perfect life together in New York City, where she loves living and working. She lives only blocks from her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, Max. So when she and Theo start to learn more about each other, Edie is dismayed that their life goals don’t seem to mesh as seamlessly as she had assumed they would. But she also knows that her grandmother doesn’t make mistakes.
When some family secrets are shared, Edie realizes that instead of just blindly trusting “fate,” aka Gloria’s vision, she might be better served to trust her own feelings. And just as we sagely nod, and think to ourselves that yes, blindly trusting fate is not sensible, Orenstein throws in a twist that makes us rethink even that notion.
“Meant to Be Mine” is sweet but not saccharine. It’s charming and filled with feel-good family emotion. The premise is unique, and while it’s a quick read, it’s also thoughtfully written and filled with characters we are rooting for. All of them. And in what might be a sadly ironic twist considering recent events, the little brother of one of the characters has been killed by a school shooter. This tragedy sparked his desire to work on gun control issues. It’s sadly ironic because while Orenstein had no idea what the future held when she wrote this book, the facts show that in the past many months, there has been at least one school shooting a month, and as many as eight in one month. So while reading the novel, my first thought was that the school shooting reference was, horribly, very timely. Upon reflection, I realized the bitter truth: No matter the month of publication, there would be a school shooting that would make this issue timely.
Book clubs looking for a lighter summer novel that still has some discussion-worthy issues to ponder would do well to make this one of their summer reads.
Please note: This review was first posted, in an edited format, on Bookreporter.com.