Kara McDowell’s second book, One Way or Another, was just released yesterday! (You can read my ARC review of her first book, Just for Clicks here!) I recently read the book, and absolutely loved it — not to mention, it put me in the mood for Christmas! Anyway, make sure to go pick up a copy, especially if you’re looking to get in the mood for Christmas!
The average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day. That’s about 34,999 too many for Paige Collins, who lives in debilitating fear of making the wrong choice. The simple act of picking an art elective is enough to send her into a spiral of what-ifs. What if she’s destined to be a famous ceramicist but wastes her talent in drama club? What if there’s a carbon monoxide leak in the ceramics studio and everyone drops dead? (Grim, but possible!)
That’s why when Paige is presented with two last-minute options for Christmas vacation, she’s paralyzed by indecision. Should she go with her best friend (and longtime crush) Fitz to his family’s romantic mountain cabin? Or should she accompany her mom to New York, a city Paige has spent her whole life dreaming about?
Just when it seems like Paige will crack from the pressure of choosing, fate steps in — in the form of a slippery grocery store floor — and Paige’s life splits into two very different parallel paths. One path leads to New York where Paige falls for the city . . . and the charms of her unexpected tour guide. The other leads to the mountains where Paige might finally get her chance with Fitz . . . until her anxiety threatens to ruin everything.
However, before Paige gets her happy ending in either destiny, she’ll have to face the truth about her struggle with anxiety — and learn that you don’t have to be “perfect” to deserve true love.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
I love this book. Granted, it took me way too long to understand the double meaning of the title of the book. There’s a lot of talk about fate, as in, fate one and fate two, and “one way or another” refers to that she fate could’ve gone one way, or the other, but it ends up being that, one way or another, everything works out how it’s supposed to, one way or another. (Which is how I try to live my life because the alternative isn’t…fun).
I love Fitz. LOVE him. Since we meet him first, and Paige is head over heels for him, so naturally I liked him the best over Harrison — even though I likely would’ve been Team Harrison, at least in the beginning, had we met him first. (But Fitz is a boy obsessed with rom-com movies — granted, I haven’t seen all of them, but still! It was so cool seeing him create all of these grand gestures.) Him and Fitz are pretty much the opposite — Harrison has more “bad boy” vibes (even though he’s not really a “bad boy”) than Fitz. I was also biased because of Paige’s feelings towards Fitz, but I just thought that he was so sweet! (Plus, even though he wasn’t really that much older than her, I thought Paige was a better overall match with Fitz.)
I loved how Kara left off each chapter — it was so hard to put the book down! *cue “just one more chapter” rationalizations* It was so cool to see how the same situations turned out completely differently depending on what fate I was reading, and how whenever something wasn’t going the right way in one of the fates, she romanticized how great the other fate would be going had she chosen it. Obviously, we knew what would have happened with the other fate, and how it wouldn’t be going according to plan, either. It goes to show that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
The catalyst for the book is Paige’s severe anxiety, and how she can’t make decisions — hence the decision is made for her, and her fate splits into two. I thought that Paige’s anxiety was portrayed really well, and (rightfully so) Kara never romanticizes the anxiety, even when talking about how Fitz would do grounding techniques with Paige to help calm her down when she would start to get really anxious or have a panic attack. Overall, it felt like really great rep, and even though her struggles with anxiety were, clearly, deeply engrained in the book, that wasn’t her character’s entire personality.
Overall, this is a lovely, LOVELY book, and I strongly encourage all of my fellow YA rom-com fans to go read it, especially if they’re looking for great characters that you’d want to be friends with IRL. The book does touch on more deep topics, such as the aforementioned anxiety, teen marriage (don’t worry, it’s not Paige!), and family illness in various ways, showing how well-rounded all of the characters are. If the colder weather is making you want Christmas (I’m pretty sure Lifetime might already be playing Christmas movies?), make sure to buy this book! (It also makes a great Christmas/holiday present!)
Stay tuned for my review with Kara about the book, coming soon! For now, check out my interview with her about her first book, Just for Clicks!