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Beatle Meets Destiny - Gabrielle Williams You know the ”expectations vs. reality” scene in 500 Days of Summer? When Tom arrives at Summer’s party, all heartbreakingly optimistic in his suit, holding his thoughtful gift, then the screen splits, and his vision of a romantic reunion plays out alongside the bitterly prosaic actual events?Reading Beatle Meets Destiny was a little like that for me. Theoretically, this book should have charmed the figurative pants off me. And I wanted it to. But the reality was, I felt a bit all-dressed-up in eager anticipation, yet with nowhere truly exciting to go. All the while, I couldn’t shake a lingering desire for something more than what I was reading. (And a suspicion that this book only liked me for my reading skills and not my personality. Ha ha.) This is not to say that it wasn’t a good experience – because I had a good time with Beatle Meets Destiny. As a hipsterific YA full of uniquely Australian culture references and a bang-on-realistic teenage vibe – it’s full of win. I loved the style it was written in - the omniscient, third person voice is strong enough to be a character in its own right. Full of tongue-in-cheek, dry humour, quirky asides and sharp wit, it fleshes out the story, giving it a certain unusual charm that prevents this from being a pedestrian teen rom-com. Basically, the writing makes me think that Gabrielle Williams must be one super-cool, riotously funny lady, and I really enjoyed the way she chose to relate the story.In fact, Beatle Meets Destiny reads like, if not precisely a love letter to Melbourne, at the very least, a flirty note passed in class, complete with a cheeky invitation to pash behind the bike sheds during second break. You can tell that Williams adores this place, and knows it like the back of her hand, sliding into the writing plenty of references to Melbourne icons as well as lesser-known local hangouts. There’s a saying about Sydney and Melbourne (the two big sisters in the family of Australian cities): that Sydney was endowed with all the good looks, so Melbourne has to turn on the personality to generate appeal. I’m inclined to agree with that. The Yarra is no Sydney Harbour, but Melbourne’s got character in scads. Coffee-drinking, bike-riding, record-spinning, vintage-wearing scads. Williams works this into her book very naturally, which adds to the feeling that this story is something that could be happening in real time, just around the corner. (Although – I have one small bone to pick here – the reference to the number 16 tram going near the Elwood Canal really bugged me. It doesn’t go anywhere near there! So I’m inclined to think this was written as a sneaky way to slip in the “near canal – far canal” joke. For those without the accent, “far canal” with the right inflection sounds like you’re cussing. Anyway, Melbourne rant over.)Structurally, the book follows both Beatle and Destiny, occasionally split with small, interview-style excerpts. These at first seem unrelated, but eventually draw a thread through the book, trying up into a knot of an “aha!” moment at the end. From the opening tram-stop “meet-cute” of the titular characters, the story takes up the idea of meeting someone so right when the timing couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a sly take on a contemporary young adult romance, twisting the usual formula with the addition of superstition and star signs, stalkers, skateboarding, secret rendezvous’ and the hazards of keeping multiple secrets. I have to say, the cheating element of the story didn’t really bother me, as such, because I feel that the characters and the way they were rendered were fairly accurate and believable. As Shirley says much more eloquently in her review, I doubt this is a dissection of the moral ins and outs of infidelity. There’s more than one relationship of dubious ethical nature in this book, but I don’t get the feeling Williams is critiquing whether these situations are “wrong” or “right”. She’s telling a story about characters who get caught up in a web of choices and deception. Of course, I don’t condone Beatle’s actions – but I think he was emotionally immature as opposed to wilfully malicious. Contrary to popular YA fiction, high school is not all sparkly boys and literally undying love. People do incredibly foolish, impulsive, stupid things all the time. On this point though – I found Beatle simultaneously endearing and incredibly frustrating. There was so much about him as a character that I liked (“lyk’d”.. ha ha) – yet his persistent unwillingness to take decisive action for himself made me more than a little cross with him at times. When it comes down to it, Destiny felt like the stronger person in this story. Sure, she does plenty of irresponsible things (tapestries and newspaper ads, anyone?) but in the end, Destiny has the guts to stand up and mess with the bull (so to speak – sorry Mrs McCartney) even when she knows she’s about to get the horns. There was a lot about Beatle Meets Destiny that I loved: the banter between the characters, the twin trivia, the quirky families, the interplay of the plot threads. At times this book felt so familiar I found myself laughing aloud, and Williams definitely nails infatuation in all its hilarious, cringe-worthy, fluttery moments. But there was a slightness of feeling here that I can’t overlook. On the surface, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Deeper than that – I found it a little wanting. I was entertained by the characters, but not massively invested in them. And some parts felt a tiny bit as if the “quirk” factor was being laboured, to the point of coming across slightly contrived (particularly the final scene with the “sign”.) But my major complaint is to do with one of the secondary characters, who gets rather shafted (in more ways than one). I felt as if she deserved more than a paragraph brush-off, considering the fact that almost the entire plot hinges on her existence. So while my high expectations for Beatle Meets Destiny went a little unrealised and we didn’t fall madly in love and ride the number 16 tram off into the St Kilda sunset (as I am not classy enough for Kew) – it does have the makings of a fun Aussie classic, and it showed me a good time.Finally, reading this book, and the subsequent review would not have been the same without the absolute pleasure of reading along with gorgeous Shirley Marr (Team Reynley!). Ms Marr's inimitable brilliance is on display hereBonus Round!As if this review wasn’t already long enough, and just because I can – gratuitous Melbourne photos from Beatle Meets Destiny locations:St Kilda Botanical GardensThe EspyMelbourne skyline from near the Elwood CanalBonus Round 2If I was going to nominate a song for this book, I’d choose Good Intent by Kimbra, Because (a) Kimbra’s based in Melbourne and (b) I think it’s a good fit for Beatle’s little situation..