Book Review: Never Always Sometimes

20522640Novel: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid | Goodreads
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

Adi Alsaid is one of my favorite writers. He writes about being a teenager in one of the most authentic ways I’ve seen, and his characters simply come to life on the page. The first book I read of Alsaid, Let’s Get Lost, absolutely blew me away, so I expected no less from Never Sometimes Always. However, Never Sometimes Always surpassed all my expectations.

Julia and Dave were, in many ways, polar opposites. They start out being incredibly similar – both are uninterested in having the regular “high school experience”, take immense joy in being different, mock many of the “popular” kids and their regular activities, and value one another’s friendship to no end. The book opens from Dave’s point of view, and stays this way until about halfway through the book, something I loved. Being able to only see the events that unfolded in the first half of the book from Dave’s point of view means that you know all about Dave’s love for Julia, but have no idea how she feels until the perspective switches. When Julia was the narrator I learned new things about her, because she is, in many ways, a secretive girl. She doesn’t always say what she means, and she’s dealing with a lot more than she lets on, something I related to immediately.

These two were continually surprising me. Julia was crazier than I was expecting at first, taking the world by storm. She always said “yes”, in many ways. The bigger, the better for Julia. Dave seemed quieter to me. He was the one who reeled in Julia many times, but he also went along with many of her antics, which never failed to surprise me. Dave actually reminded me a lot of myself, who loved being different but also craved some normalcy in his life. The differences between Julia and Dave become more apparent at the book goes on and they cross items off their Nevers list, and they have to deal with some of the issues that come up in their friendship because of these differences.

This book focuses on friendship in a way that few other books do. The ups and the downs of friendship, the concept of growing apart, the prospective of going to college in different places. What do you do when your best friend doesn’t support your choices? When they challenge what you always thought of them? When you feel like they’re slipping away from you? How do you go from being best friends to a couple – and should you? These questions and more are all addressed in Never Always Sometimes with honesty, humor, and inside jokes that made my heart sing.

Alsaid also addresses the infamous senioritis in Never Always Sometimes which is surprisingly absent in most YA set during the final months of high school. Although I haven’t experienced this phenomenon, based on what my friends have told me, I think Alsaid did an pretty great job of capturing that feeling of “what’s the point in any of this?” that battles with “I have a quiz!!!!!! I MUST STUDY” that has plagued me for my entire life, and will probably only grow during my senior year.

Never Always Sometimes is sharp and witty, poignant and surprising, well-written and un-put-downable. (Is that a word? I don’t know. But I’m making it one.) The ending was realistic and left me feeling happy and content in a way few books do. Adi Alsaid has crafted another incredible read that I will be shoving into the hands of everyone I know.