Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Published on August 4, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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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.
Never Always Sometimes was a start-and-stop kind of story for me. With the alternating perspectives of two best friends Julia and Dave, the story took a while to get off the ground with too much telling and not enough plot, but once it got going this story was hard to put down!
One of the best parts of the book was the last quarter, and without giving too much away I loved how these two best friends both navigated their relationship. Their friendship felt very real and for all its co-dependent moments, I couldn’t fault them for being close to one another. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to not only fall in love with your best friend, but also follow through with that and begin dating them, Never Always Sometimes depicted that trajectory nicely. Being in love can be confusing, but how much more terrifying is it when you add in the worry of ruining your perfect friendship?
While I struggled through the first half of the narrative, I flew through the latter half in a fury, wondering what does happen when you date your best friend? Do you end up like Harry and Sally (Please tell me someone gets this reference)? Or does it break your heart in a million different pieces? I appreciated Alsaid’s approach to Dave and Julia’s relationship – it was different than any I’ve read before in a YA contemporary and that was so refreshing. Offering up a different kind of heartbreak than misunderstandings and arguments, while opting to focus on the friendship rather than the romance. I loved that.
However, this book was choppily written at times. I felt bogged down through Dave’s constant declarations of love, and found myself growing tired of Julia’s behavior before I really was able to understand her motives. While the first half of the book moved slowly for me, I truly did enjoy how the story tackled true love, best friends, and how the difference between “boyfriend and girlfriend” and “best friends” can be both scary and thrilling. While there wasn’t a huge cast of characters, Alsaid used each person to pull out the issues and fears of Julia and Dave throughout the story. Nothing was wasted, and there were many emotional punches thrown. Never Always Sometimes handled all those feelings with honesty, taking the reader through many highs and lows which ultimately ended on a satisfying note.
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