One thing we loved about Jason and Julia’s story was that it fit in so perfectly with the archetypical opposites attract love story. Julia frankly can’t stand Jason when the book starts, but after being thrust together on a school trip to London, they start realizing how their differences pale in comparison to their mutual attraction. Here is an exploration of how some of the best romances in YA are between couples who on the surface aren’t very much alike.
Jason and Julia: “Meant to Be” by Lauren Morrill is a wonderful contemporary fiction novel in which our protagonists can’t stand each other at the beginning, but you just know they’re going to get together. In the meantime, you enjoy all the altercations and misunderstandings that ensue. Much like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (they even mention “Pride and Prejudice” in the book), Jason and Julia are complete opposites who take a while to realize that their initial impressions of each other weren’t the whole story.
What he’s like: Jason loves attention. He’s loud, funny, obnoxious, and annoying — the guy who’s part hottie, part class clown. Everyone thinks he never takes anything seriously and few people know that he’s really, really smart. He loves to have fun, go to parties and is effortlessly a ladies man. Jason can charm anything out of anyone. He’s a tall redhead with one of those “million dollar” smiles. He certainly didn’t plan on getting involved with someone as uptight as Julia.
What she’s like: Julia is a smart, organized, disciplined girl. She learns to stay off everyone’s radar and doesn’t like any attention on herself. She is the kind of person that has everything thoroughly planned and mapped out. She even knows precisely where she wants to go to college, and her SAT scores are proof that she will go wherever she wants. She is extremely studious and competitive as a swimmer. A star athlete, she loves to swim, run, swim and do push-ups (especially when she’s stressed). Julia certainly didn’t plan on getting involved with someone as obnoxious as Jason.
Why it works: Although Jason and Julia are as different as any two people can be, they soon discover that they have more in common than they realized. Julia learns to relax a little bit and be more spontaneous. She discovers that they both love The Beatles. With Jason, Julia is able to experience being herself and not worrying so much about what everyone thinks about her. Jason begins to really care about someone for the first time in his life. He even takes Julia’s advice and reconnects with a family member. He finally opens himself to the possibility of love. They truly bring out the best in each other. –Diana
Ron and Hermione: I didn’t realize until halfway through reading “Harry Potter” that Ron and Hermione were such a controversial literary couple, because it seemed SO OBVIOUS to me that Jo Rowling had destined for them to end up together from the moment Hermione told Ron he had a spot of dirt on his nose. After seven years and thousands of pages, Harry’s two best friends finally declared their love at a most inopportune moment during the Battle of Hogwarts. But as Ron told Harry, “It’s now or never isn’t it?”
What she’s like: Hermione is usually called a goodie-two-shoes, but the truth is, she lies and deceives and swishes her wand when she needs to if it will save her friends. But yes, she is generally a rules follower who pays a lot of attention to her grades and works her hardest to earn her label as the “most brilliant witch of her age.”
What he’s like: Oh Ron, he’s so impulsive and insecure and unaware of just how awesome he is, because his two best friends are Hermione Granger and Harry friggin’ Potter! But although Ron isn’t the smartest wizard of his age or the Chosen One destined to defeat Voldemort, he’s courageous and fiercely protective and would do anything to keep those he loves safe. Plus, he’s hilarious!
Why it works: Talk about “Meant to Be” — Ron and Hermione really couldn’t survive without each other, as evidenced by the depressing as hell chapters in “Deathly Hallows” when Ron is away brooding about the Horcrux. I feel sorry for readers who thought Hermione and Harry would end up together, because they obviously ignored all of the heavy foreshadowing Rowling included about why the bickering and bantering Ron and Hermione were so passionate with each other — they were slowly falling in love throughout most of adolescence!
Katniss and Peeta: At this point you would have to live under a rock to not have heard about “The Hunger Games.” Katniss and Peeta got so much attention this past year and rightly so. They are part of a story that is so exciting and thrilling that it almost seemed as if everyone was all abuzz about them. Yet it’s hard to imagine a pair that seems so ill suited for each other. Despite the hardships they endure they do manage to find love in the midst of all the death and destruction around them.
What she’s like: There are few heroines in contemporary literature as strong and tough as Katniss. She can hunt better than any man in her district. She takes care of her mother and sister after her father is killed. However, all this toughness has also made her a bit surly. She has little patience with people except for her best friend Gale and her sister Prim. Her instinct to protect is so powerful that she volunteers as tribute in place of her sister. Once she is part of the Hunger Games she shows what she is truly made of. Her courage and fortitude shine through at every moment during the games.
What he’s like: Peeta is a shy, young baker. He has the kind of personality that people are attracted to. He knows how to speak in public and easily wins over the crowds. Although most of the girls at school have crushes on him, he is oblivious to their attention. When he is chosen for the Hunger Games he doesn’t know how to fight or hunt and doesn’t expect to survive the Hunger Games. He only cares about Katniss and her survival because he knows in his heart that she has what it takes to win.
Why it works: It works because they fall in love for each other in the midst of a literal war going on around them. They open up their hearts to each other in a way that they didn’t know was possible. When they return to their real lives they are unsure how to proceed with their relationship so Katniss relegates it to a friendship. They care about each other and that just continues to grow and strengthen. –Diana
Mia and Adam: They are the quintessential opposite couple in YA literature. Mia is a Julliard-trained cellist and Adam is the front-man of an emo-rock band. Although they come from different worlds, their mutual love of music draws them together. Adam is drawn to Mia’s intensity when she plays the cello. Mia is drawn to Adam, who’s a fierce musician but also the gentlest of boyfriends.
What she’s like: It’s easy to love Mia. She comes from a family that you quickly come to love. Her parents are former punk rockers. Mia’s love for classical music and the cello comes as a big surprise to her parents, but they are quickly supportive because they believe that loving music is more important than the type of music. Mia is a bit insecure about herself and can’t quite believe that Adam would want to be with her. Adam makes it clear to her that he truly loves her.
What he’s like: Adam is that incredibly cool and unique guy that truly doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. He is one of those people that “marches to the beat of his own drummer.” When he first asks Mia out it’s to a Yo-Yo Ma concert that he saved up two weeks’ worth of pizza delivery tips. To cement his “cool factor” he wears a sharkskin suit and Creepers. Adam loves Mia so much that he is able to write the best music of his life when he pours his emotions about her into his songs.
Why it works: Their love endures tragic circumstances that are seemingly insurmountable. Discovering how their love will endure despite the tragedy that surrounds them is what keeps you involved in their lives. You can’t help rooting for their love, even when it seems unsustainable. Together, they bridge the gap between classical music and alt rock. Together, they are Groovy and the Geek. –Diana
More of our favorite Opposites Attract Couples: Which ones are your favorites?
- Finnikin and Isaboe from “Finnikin of the Rock” by Melina Marchetta
- Joe and Lennie from “The Sky Is Everywhere” by Jandy Nelson
- Lola and Cricket from “Lola and the Boy Next Door” by Stephanie Perkins
- Simon and Isabelle from “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare
- Will and Frankie from “Saving Francesca” by Melina Marchetta
- Brittany and Alex from “Perfect Chemistry” by Simone Elkeles
- Alina and Mal from “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
- Lucy and Ed from “Graffiti Moon” by Cath Crowley
- Terra and Jacob from “North of Beautiful” by Justina Chen Headley
Don’t forget to hop over to the rest of the Selective Collective:
- Casting Call by Tee @ YA Crush
- Book Club discussion guide by Candice @ The Grown-Up YA
- Author’s profile & giveaway by Dixie & Maggie @ Gone Pecan
- A full review of the book by Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide