O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    DAVE DROPPED HIS backpack by his feet and slid onto the bench that overlooked the harbor at Morro Bay. He loved the view here: the ocean sprawling out like the future itself, interrupted only by the white tips of docked sailboats and the rusted railing people held onto to watch the sunset. He loved how far away it felt from San Luis Obispo, even though it was only fifteen minutes away. Most of all, he loved when Julia would appear in his periphery mock-frowning, how she would keep her eyes on him, trying not to smile as she walked up, then she would slide in right next to him like there was nowhere else she belonged.
(Page 1, US ARC edition)

This review was first posted at A Backwards Story on August 1, 2015. I loved the book too much not to share it with a new audience!

“It’s always hard to tell whether you kids are bored or in love. I guess it’s about fifty-fifty, but I can’t ever tell. I figure that most of the time I’m over-romanticizing, since I was your age when I met my fiancée. 


It is realllllllllllly hard to talk about NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES by Adi Alsaid without spoilers. The thing I love BEST about the book is one of the biggest spoilers of all!!! Argh! *pulls hair* But I'm not going to talk about anything spoilery so that you can enjoy the book as much as I did! In fact, now I really want to read his other novels as well because I've heard so many good things about him! PLUS, I once got to meet Adi Alsaid at BEA and listen to him talk on a Teen Author Carnival, and he is so, so nice! I can't wait to read more by him!

Dave and Julia are best friends who, right before entering high school, decided to make a list of all the high school clichés that they vowed never to do. They find the list right before the end of their senior year, when everything has that sluggish get me out of here, I'm done! feeling known as senioritis. Feeling restless, they decide to try every single cliché on the list, even the ones that don't sound like great ideas. One of the rules is to never date your best friend, and while Julia has never had feelings for Dave, Dave was in love with Julia even back when they made their list. Could this be his chance to finally open her eyes to something new? By doing everything on the list will change both Dave and Julia in ways they never anticipated or saw coming and test the bounds of their friendship.

As you know, I'm not a huge fan of contemporary YA. Books have to be pretty special to live on after I've moved on to that next book. I'd put NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES in that pretty special category. A large part of it has to do with the direction Alsaid takes things and twists the story in unexpected ways. Another huge part is Alsaid himself. The story is made up of beautiful sentences and phrases and ideas that I just want to quote and pin to a wall. There is also this amazing scene with a treehouse, and just, well! I want one!! And the END. I can't talk about it, of course, but the ending is so, so perfect, and exactly what I wanted! I am so thrilled that Alsaid did the things he did and made outcomes the way he did, because it's so rare to find YA novels--or novels in general--that take the route he did. Perfection!

I also really connected with Dave and his plight. He goes through so much and changes in so many ways. I wasn't a huge fan of Julia. I kind of really hated her and the way she frequently treated Dave, but I understood her a lot more when she took over the narration. I still had a sour taste leaving Dave's perspective, but Julia gave me reasons to like her more as her narration progressed. I still don't love her as a character, but I understand her a lot more. But Dave, how I love Dave! There are also some amazing secondary characters that really take front and center and steal my heart, even if they don't get much page time. I really like the way even secondary characters can be fleshed out and made real, which is a great talent for a writer to have, in my opinion, and what truly brings a contemporary novel to life. I always struggle to have that balance, and love the authors who can do it the most!

And really....I just can't talk about this book without spoilers!!! If you want a book that explores the bonds of friendship, or one that seeks to undo school clichés in fun, innovative ways, I highly recommend checking out NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES. Not only is it a great summer read, it's also great to throw into your backpack and take to school with you for assigned reading time!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15+ ( sexual situations )
Language: PG15+ ( mild language; sexual innuendo )
Violence: ---
Other: --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's so fitting!!! I love how the paper gets smaller and smaller the more it gets waded up and opened and looked at! I can so picture this being THE list!!!

I also like the texture being used on the font for the title and author's name.

I think this one is fun and will get a lot of attention on the shelf!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Adi Alsaid
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Received: For Review; purchased


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.