Birthday Will Make You Believe in Fate (Review: Birthday by Meredith Russo)

6:30 AM

I don't know how much I feel about fate being, well, fate. But, it feels like fate that I read this book. Not unlike the obviously fated love story it tells.


Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.

Birthday by Meredith Russo  
Rating: ★★★★★

This was my first experience with Meredith Russo's prose, but certainly not my last. Birthday alone is one of the most poignant, thought-provoking and heart warming releases in YA this year. It could not be more deserving of its praises. I've been in a sea of emotions since finishing and it's taken a while to fully process Birthday and the beauty in this particular love story. 

I'm a sucker for love blossoming between two friends. It's one of my favourite tropes, if explored in a way that's unique but familiar. In the case of Birthday, the representation makes the story all the more engaging and reminds us what is desperately needed in fiction. Birthday made me believe in fate and that, in itself, is what fiction should be about: learning, believing and feeling.

Seeing the way that Eric and Morgan develop into their relationship through snapshots of their teenage years was truly a beautiful gift. Watching as they came of age and found themselves in more ways than one brought me immense joy. It also, at times, brought a great deal of raw emotion that leaves readers with something of an ache. It is in these moments that it truly shines.

If you're not sold, think of the character development all on its own. Russo crafts two characters in the best of ways--never erasing their flaws, keeping them true to life and making them genuinely wonderful people. Their character growth, along with their connection, is what makes Birthday soar as a love story. They learn, they love, they accept, they struggle--they come to life before your eyes.

But it is the time we spend in the narration that we truly get to know the story and these characters. In it we see more than just standard coming of age tropes; we see first loves, we see the struggles of a young transgender, the loss of a parent, the cruelty of another and we watch as each of these little (big) moments in two teenagers lives come to head.  

Birthday's formatting, each of the snapshots take place during specific birthdays, emphasizes the fact that time can seem endless or fast. It's a look into growing up and, well, fate. Russo takes the familiar formula of YA contemporary and pens the perfect love letter in the process. Birthday is unforgettable and, frankly, one of the best books of 2019. 

With such a powerful message and two fantastic lead characters, you really can't go wrong. 

As a note, there are slurs in here that will make specific people uncomfortable. Proceed with caution, if you are triggered by homophobic slurs and such. They are used in a context that mirrors real life and it may be harmful to some.

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