- Title: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This
- Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Release Date: 6/8/21
- Genre: Fiction
- Age Range: Young Adult
- Content Warnings: depression, anxiety, OCD, mentions of anti-semitism and racism
- Rating: ★★★★★
I recently fell in love with Rachel Lynn Solomon’s The Ex Talk, and I was thrilled that I got the chance to be a Jewish own voices reviewer for We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This. I was emotional over how “seen” I felt by The Ex Talk, but that was even more true for me in this book.
We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This centers around Quinn Berkowitz, whose parents run a wedding planning business that they expect her to join when she graduates from college. She doesn’t quite know how to tell her parents that she would rather pursue a different career. Her parents have worked for years with Tarek Mansour and his parents, who run a catering company. Tarek is a hopeless romantic who will do his best to shake Quinn of her disillusion with romance and the wedding industry.
Quinn is appealing as a main character precisely because she is not perfect. She loses track of time and forgets to screen an art gallery for her parents; she worries that she will never be able to find true love; she can be clumsy. These flaws end up making her easier to like because she is never put on a pedastal. She is easy to relate to and root for. Not only did I want her to realize that she is worthy of love, but I wanted her to figure out her career aspirations as well.
I am so grateful to Rachel Lynn Solomon for delving into both Quinn and Tarek’s mental health issues. As someone who struggles with many of the same issues, it was so important to me to see them discussed. There are so many misconceptions about OCD that I so appreciated the descriptions of Quinn’s experience with that diagnosis. Tarek also asks Quinn questions to try to better understand what she’s going through, which is not only empathetic on Tarek’s part, but useful for readers who don’t understand OCD.
The fact that Quinn and Tarek are able to discuss their experiences dealing with OCD, anxiety, and depression also shows that they trust and support each other. Quinn initially assumes that Tarek never responded to an email she sent confessing her feelings for him because he didn’t feel the same way. However, she learns that it was because his depression had left him unable to respond in the way he wanted to. This is an important reminder that you never know what someone is going through unless you ask.
There are so many moments that made me especially appreciate reading this book as a Jew. I’ve been intentionally reading more books with Jewish representation lately, and I love that Rachel Lynn Solomon makes her characters’ Jewishness an important part of their indentities. The brunch where the Berkowitzes joked about being “bad Jews” while eating bacon feels so real to me. (However, this Jew will add that not following the laws of Kashrut doesn’t make you a “bad Jew” even though I have definitely had those feelings before).
As a major foodie, I loved the descriptions of the food that Tarek cooks. I wanted to eat the macarons and wedding cake (and everything else) that he bakes throughout the novel. The way he relishes Quinn’s reactions to his food is so sweet. It warmed my heart that Tarek made her a mug cake because he knows she loves them. As someone whose love language is feeding others, I can definitely relate.
I am so grateful that I had the chance to read We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This, and I’m already looking forward to reading my next book by Rachel Lynn Solomon.