Readers follow as Caroline’s life is split in two, following the path stretching before each decision. There are emotional consequences of each choice - changes in the way she relates to her family and friends, new relationships that develop and old relationships that end - all influenced by this one decision to go or stay.
For me, the novel, co-authored by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, carried with it a strong impression of the late 90s Gwyneth Paltrow/John Hannah movie Sliding Doors, exploring the concept that individual moments and decisions can take our lives in vastly different directions, yet still maintain a sense of continuity or ‘fate’ – that we end up where we are meant to be.
I enjoyed the two developing plot lines, although I did occasionally become confused and have to consciously adjust my thinking, as many of the characters are common to both paths, but interact with Caroline differently. The family and friendship dynamics were interesting, particularly as they developed in contrast between to two separate plot lines.
For me, I think the highlight of this novel was the idea that we can make good decisions for bad reasons and bad decisions with the best of intentions, but we can choose to not have these decisions define our lives. The way Caroline deals with the consequences of her decisions, both good and bad, and learns from her mistakes and successes, determines the way the story develops in each separate plot more so than the initial decision to go or stay.
While this is not my favourite Cat Patrick novel, I do think it raises some very interesting and thoughtful questions in a format that is entertaining to read. For those who choose to simply read it as a ‘what if’ story, that can be easily done, while those who choose to think more deeply will find plenty of material to springboard discussions about fate, accountability, teen relationships and other issues.
Title: Just Like Fate
Author: Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont, $22.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 September 2013
For ages: 14+
Type: Young adult