Thursday, August 3, 2017

[Review] Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 09/11/2009
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Pages: 291
Source: Library
Genre: YA {Contemporary}

Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity

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My Rating
My thoughts

I always have the hardest time talking about books that I absolutely adore. Gabrielle Williams is quickly shaping up to be one of my favourite Aussie authors at this rate, after having relishing in her latest novel, My Life as a Hashtag. I was surprised when Beatle Meets Destiny managed to far surpass any prior expectations I may have had (yes, I would pick this book over Hashtag!), and it may yet have landed on my top 5 for the year! One thing that I feel gives this book the upper hand is the timeless feel to it - even though it was written back in 2009 I felt like my reading experience of it would have been exactly the same back then: no social media stuff or technology that could date it.

Beatle Meets Destiny is a delectable conglomeration of fate and happenstance, superstition, astrology, twins, friends, love, skateboarding, stalkers, Year 12 life, and perfectly captured Melbourne-ness! I am so glad that I am reading more Aussie books so that I can stumble upon masterpieces crafted by the likes of Gabrielle Williams. If you have not read anything by her yet, seriously I implore you to rectify that post-haste!

In Gabrielle Williams' debut YA novel, we are introduced to a classic boy-meets-girl story: John 'Beatle' Lennon stumbles upon Destiny McCartney at a local tram stop late one Friday the 13th night, right before Valentine's Day. One crazy coincidence follows the next in one of the most satisfyingly dizzying and magical stories of happenstance to date: the next day, Destiny walks into the coffee shop where Beatle works at, which also happens to be on the other side of town, and if she had gone in 7 minutes later they would have missed each other. And so on. The only thing is, Beatle already has a girlfriend.

In a book that is undeniably full of quirky charm, the unique way in which the narrative is written only adds to my adoration. Beatle Meets Destiny felt slightly The Book Thief-ish at times, just because of this very distinct omniscient narrator, third-person narration. I was surprised by how well it worked! For a contemporary! The way that Williams interwove flashbacks and memories, previous facts and other little tid-bits, into the story . . . I am just speechless. How can this be her debut novel?!

I loved all the characters! I loved the large family where Destiny ends up helping to write horoscopes for the magazine (where one of her sister works), and because every single person in the family is a different sign she just ends up writing about every member of the family. I loved her friends, and the crazy antics they get up to, and their dialogue felt so authentic and made me a bit wistful. I even enjoyed reading Beatle's relationship with his twin sister, Winsome. She was so rude to him usually, but they have this familiar bond and of course the twin thing that had a sweet resolution.

Beatle. On the one hand I kind of really didn't like him. But I also empathised and understood why he did what he did (somewhat). You see, his girlfriend is actually also his twin sister's best friend and deeply familiar with the family. So breaking-up would be a really awkward affair indeed. And as a teenage boy who doesn't really know how to deal with his feelings properly at times, he keeps quiet about liking Destiny and pretends that everything is hunky-dory. It was hilarious to see him try to squirm his way out of trouble in the end!

The romance that pans out is super cute and sweet and flirty and swoony and I wanted them to get together, but I was also fighting it, because CHEATING = BAD. But like, you can't fight destiny, you know that they're going to get together, there's like this cosmic pull for them to make it in the end. 

There are also side-plots: Destiny and her friends answer a "stalker wanted" ad on the internet; Destiny finds a chair tapestry on the street and transforms it into her art project thinking that someone left it out as rubbish; Beatle's friends film a video, where they have this hilarious scene of trying to nail a skateboarding trick which ends up breaking three skateboards; and Winsome is seeing a teacher at school. I loved them all! I loved that in just under 300 pages, Williams somehow managed to pack a lot in, but it never felt like character development was lacking, or that further development was needed. It was a perfect balance for me!

Another thing that I found interesting was that there were interviews of twins interspersed through the story. I am fascinated by twins, and it was pretty cool to read some of their stories!

Lastly, this is an Aussie book that feels distinctly Aussie. Like, people from overseas certainly can read it and identify with all the issues. But Williams spills out her love for Melbourne on the page, you can tell how visceral and intense is her love. I'm not a local, but I've visited three times and recalled some of the street and suburb names, and it definitely had me aching to go back. There's an awesome vibe about this book too, something that can't quite be described, but it's a Melbourne vibe.

Cheating? Bad. Beatle Meets Destiny? Great! Pick it up if you're feeling down - you'll be sure to be left with a big smile on your face by the end! This was such a fun and quick read, a reading experience highly memorable and incomparable to any other. So much love! <3


First lines:

"John Lennon was named John Lennon after John Lennon.But everyone called him Beatle.Beatle was eighteen years old, born on the eighteenth of December.His twin sister, Winsome, was also eighteen years old, born six weeks later and in an entirely different year on the first of February.Non-identical twins with non-identical birthdates.
"Beatle put his hand on the back of her head and brought her face across to him, all the better to kiss her with. A long, slow kiss that seemed to have lots of words in it, and lots of getting-to-know-you in it, and by the time he let her have her lips back, she could hardly breathe. (36)

AUSTRALIA: A&R | Co-op Bookshop

INTERNATIONAL: Abe Books | Wordery

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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