Review: Never, Always, Sometimes

Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Published: August 4, 2015
Pages: 320
Source: library eBook

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 dye 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.

My Thoughts

So I’ve been meaning to read this book since I heard about it. I’ve been hearing some pretty good things about it and I thought that, even though I’m not a fan of contemporary, I should give it a shot. I’m pretty happy with my choice. I really enjoyed the novel. Yes, most of the time I was rolling my eyes at Julia, but this turned out to be a really human and a really good novel. The only thing keeping it from a five was that I didn’t feel pulled in like I do with novels that have fives. I didn’t instantly fall in love with it, but there was still love all the same. 
The Characters

I thought Julia was going to totally be a manic-pixie-dream-girl–and she was! For most of the novel I was rolling my eyes because she constantly tried to not be the “cliche high school teenager”. Ironically she became the cliche that is the “rebelling high school teenager”. It was probably why I was rolling my eyes so much. She was intentionally trying to be different. She took her shoes off at school, she deliberately didn’t go to football games and parties. She did everything in her power to not be the cliche and became a cliche while trying not to become the cliche. This comes up in a huge fight between Julia and Dave which I saw brewing ever since they decided to do all of the Nevers on their Never list and Dave was obviously having a better time. But in the end, Julia figures out why she’s trying so hard to not be “normal” or cliche and decides that.. it’s not all bad. This is what made me kind of like Julia in the end. I really, really despised her because she was trying to be a manic-pixie-dream-girl, but she realized that she was doing it for the wrong reasons. 
I really liked Dave. He, as Julia puts it, had a heart of gold. He was really sweet and he totally felt bad for Gretchen after he kind of broke her heart (okay, he totally broke her heart). I liked that he was enjoying himself at these “cliche” moments. Dave questioned why they never even entertained the idea of at least trying out these cliche moments of high school. Even though the novel seemed to center around Dave, I think Julia definitely had the bigger character arc. Dave just kind of discovered how silly it was to try and be so different from everyone else, when it turns out, they’re not all that different. He discovered that everyone didn’t live in a perpetual cliche and the thoughts of cliches. He discovered that there’s more to a person than on the surface. 
I loved Gretchen. She was so sweet and she and Dave hit it off right away. I think they were really cute together. That’s really all I have to say. She’s mostly a plot device, but she was adorable.

In the end, I really ended up enjoying the novel. A lot of the love was after the end of the book. When everything went to hell and was patched up was when I really liked the novel. I feel like Adi found a way to write what it was like to discover what you are and who you are in high school. That perpetual of “who am I” and “who am I trying to impress” that you go through in high school was really well written. Even though I moaned about how I really disliked Julia, I feel like Julia was kind of written to not be liked until she realized what she was doing. She was obnoxious and almost pretentious, but she found out that she wasn’t pretentious because it was in her personality. She was pretentious because she thought she would get some kind of validation. After she realized that she wasn’t, Julia realized that she needed to just be herself (even if that meant that she was a cliche). 
I think this is a great novel for self discovery and a coming of age type of thinking. It highlighted a lot of stuff that I kind of did in high school. Going against the current and sneering at everyone who went with the current like it was a bad thing. Looking back I kind of roll my eyes at myself, but I grew from that and now I’m just who I am. I’m not being me for the sake of another person, I’m just me. 

“There was no greater proof of an underlying human connection than the universal hatred of Monday mornings.”
“There’s more to most of these people than you realize, you’re just too busy making fun of everyone to see it.”
“It has nothing to do with shyness. The little tortoise shell the two of you live in without letting the rest of the world in.”

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