I was lucky enough to be included in a very cool project: an ARC Hop for Adi Alsaid’s second novel, Never Always Sometimes! Though Never Always Sometimes is set to release on August 4th by Harlequin Teen, I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the young adult novel thanks to good old-fashioned snail mail. Alsaid blogged about the idea here. He sent an ARC along to one reader, and then gave that reader the address of the next reader to send the book to. We were asked to keep the book for no longer than two weeks (easy, since I devoured the book in two days). We were also asked to write a high school cliche we were guilty of (or one we wished we’d experienced) inside the book.
Why, you ask? Never Always Sometimes is all about high school cliches. Rather, it’s about a “Nevers” list: a list of high school cliches best friends Dave and Julia vow to never experience. But when they get bored during their senior year, they decide to shake things up and cross as many “Nevers” off their list as possible. The story that ensues is funny, and touching, and anything but predictable.
The book starts from Dave’s perspective (before switching to Julia’s, and then a dual section), and I found his point of view very easy and comfortable to get behind. He is a sensitive and thoughtful character, preferring to watch the world from the perch of his favorite bench in Morro Bay. He also pines, silently, for his best friend – a “Never” on the Never List if there’s ever been one. After years of practice, Dave has learned to tamp down his feelings, to be content with his extremely close friendship with Julia. It is so obvious how much he cares in the way he notices small details about her, and how he embraces those details, those quirks. And even though this is a “Never,” I found myself rooting for Dave and Julia to become more than friends, because I felt like Dave deserved that shot.
Where Dave is sensitive and quiet, Julia is rather in-your-face and loud. She longs to be like her birth mother, who travels the world meeting fascinating people and doing everything she can not to succumb to a mundane life. It is easy to see why Dave feels the way he does about Julia. She makes ordinary activities, like baking cupcakes, seem new and exciting.
When Dave and Julia decide to cross the items off of their Nevers list, we as readers are taken down a path full of hilarious and exciting moments. Parties are attended and thrown, poetry is slammed, and prom-posals are planned. And even though this book is full of cliches, the path that Dave and Julia felt like anything but. I cared about these characters all the way through the novel’s progression, and I even pined for high school a bit…
Never Always Sometimes is a gem of a second novel from Adi Alsaid. I can’t wait to hear what you all think about it!
A huge thanks to the author for allowing me to take part in the ARC hop! It was a fun experience.