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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

It Had To Be You

In which our characters are pulled together by various string theories

The Red String Theory by Lauren Kung Jessen

Stars: 4

Rating: G

52 Book Club Challenge: Set during a holiday I don't Celebrate - Lunar New Year

Perfect if you like:

Fated love stories

Modern art

Discussions about the nature of fate and coincidences

Space camp 

Learning about aspects of Chinese culture 

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

In 2005, my then boyfriend and I went to New York City to see The Gates, Christo and Jean-Claude’s installation of orange flags throughout Central Park. It was a wonderful experience, wandering around a frozen park in February, seeing all the color and these beautiful silks moving in the wind. Dan and I got engaged on that very same trip, which felt like a culmination of a fateful journey that had started for us when we met on New Year’s Eve at the Government Center T Station years before. 

Rooney and Jack meet by chance at a copy shop in Manhattan on a cold day in February, right at the start of the Lunar New Year. Jack is getting copies for a presentation and Rooney is having papers printed for her anonymous exhibit in Washington Square, where she has wrapped the triumphal arch there in red string. They chat and part way, no plans to ever see each other again. Later that night, they are both at a Lantern Festival party, thrown by a friend of a friend of a friend of both of them. After launching their lanterns, they begin to follow them and thus begins an epic night for the two in New York. When they part, a series of missteps means they have no way of finding each other again.  But then, as fate and FATE would have it, they are thrown together in Los Angeles. Rooney and Jack will just need to figure out how much trust they have in each other, and the universe, so see if they have a future. 

Reading The Red String Theory made me think a lot about fate and coincidence; what things bring people into our lives and into our orbits. Rooney and Jack each have a strong belief system, but can the other person see,and even embrace, that belief system even if it feels anthema to them? Coincidentally, earlier this year, I had read a history of the Apollo space shuttles, and then here I was, reading a romance about two people who are brought together by NASA. As the two characters were falling in love during a tour of a clean room, part of me was like, yes Lauren Kung Jessen, a dust free environment is crucial to the creation of any object that gets launched into space!

I meant to get this review out before the Lunar New Year, my timing is always off. Regardless, The Red String Theory is the perfect read for the holiday or anytime. And either before or after, pick up Lunar Love as well (Liv and Ben have a nice cameo in this book). 

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