The day I created a boy started out like any other.
Katie didn’t mean to create a boy. A boy like a long-lost Hemsworth brother: six-foot tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day; whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime.
A boy who is completely devoted to Katie. He was meant to be perfect. But he was never meant to exist.
You Were Made for Me is Jenna Guillaume’s second YA novel, another heartfelt rom-com for a teenage audience. I loved her first book, What I Like About Me, and so I was excited to pick up this next read.
Teenager Katie swoons over romance and wants her first kiss to be perfect, but she’s having trouble getting any guy to notice her. When she sculpts the ‘perfect guy’ and then wakes up to find him naked in her bed, she suddenly finds herself with not just a boyfriend, but the perfect boyfriend. He’s sweet, affectionate and absolutely adores her. He’s everything that she ever wanted — but now that she has the perfect man, she starts to doubt whether he is actually what she needs. Over the course of the novel, Katie learns what it means to have a meaningful connection with someone.
“I felt around on my bedside table for my glasses and slipped them on. They were still wonky, but they did their job. The room came into focus, and I got a proper look at the naked guy for the first time. He was scratching his head, his face placid, like he didn’t have a care in the world.”
You Were Made For Me explores themes of love, relationship and friendship, but also family, body image, grief, self-confidence and following your heart no matter where it leads you.
Young readers may recognise themselves in Katie — anyone who feels alone, perhaps lonely. Anyone who isn’t popular in school. Anyone who is craving the experience of a first kiss and feels like the perfect guy will never exist.
Jenna is skilled at crafting a premise that teenagers can relate to, and older readers can recognise and sympathise with. We were all teenagers once! Admittedly, the characters did seem younger than 16 at times. Katie and Libby are optimistic and positive, but perhaps a little naive. Katie’s reliable and dependent neighbour Theo seemed the most consistent in terms of age vs. personality. He was also one of the most likeable characters in the book.
“I don’t know why I was so shocked to see him there. I mean, he lived down the road, in one of the big houses by the beach. I’d seen him skateboarding past, usually with a package from the fish and chip shop next door tucked under one arm. But he’d never come in before.”
The chapters are short and the layout really accessible to young eyes. And inside this gorgeous front-cover design, Jenna’s latest read features a diverse cast of characters — culturally, physically and sexually — so young readers will be able to see themselves reflected in the pages.
“We were at the park down the road from Libby’s place to do our official Guy handover. I had to go to work, which meant Libby was on Guy duty for the day. I felt weird about leaving him and had been tempted to call in sick…”
Stylistically and structurally, the narration bothered me. It’s hard to explain, but the book is written in first person POV, as if telling a story to the reader, but every so often Katie’s best friend chimes in and the two start having a conversation. It feels very stilted and unnatural — a little awkward? I would’ve preferred the narration to stick to first person POV without the back-and-forth with the best friend.
Additionally, the girl-gets-a-boy-and-ignores-the-best-friend is a stereotypical trope I was a little sad to see in this book. And the fact that Katie’s boyfriend suddenly appears out of thin air and she’s able to hide this grown teenager from her family and her parents is a little comical.
I do think Jenna’s first book is a stronger read — the characters are a little more likeable and the book has a more seamless style and format. But young teenage girls will enjoy this story, the quirks of the characters, the quick dialogue and the absurdity of the premise. It reminds me a little of the Life-size film with Tyra Banks, which is showing my age.
Readership skews female, 12+
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
You Were Made For Me
Pan Macmillan Publishers