Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always

Title: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always
Author: Elissa Janine Hoole
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: November 8, 2013
Source: I received an eARC in exchange for a honest review.


Cassandra fears rocking the family boat. Instead, she sinks it. Assigned by her English teacher to write a poem that reveals her true self, Cassandra Randall is stuck. Her family's religion is so overbearing, she can NEVER write about who she truly is. So Cass does what any self-respecting high school girl would do: she secretly begins writing a tarot-inspired advice blog. When Drew Godfrey, an awkward outcast with unwashed hair, writes to her, the situation spirals into what the school calls "a cyberbullying crisis" and what the church calls "sorcery." Cass wants to be the kind of person who sticks up for the persecuted, who protects the victims the way she tries to protect her brother from the homophobes in her church. But what if she's just another bully? What will it take for her to step up and tell the truth?


I am not a contemporary reader. I'm always happier when there are witches and/or wizards and/or werewolves and/or elves and/or dragons and/or whatever other magical creatures you can think. So it's not very often that I read a book that's set 100% in the real world.

With that said, Sometime Never, Sometimes Always marks my tiptoeing into the world do YA contempories (I think this is my second one ever). And I actually quite enjoyed it! Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always touches on a couple themes that hit fairly close to hope: morals and bullying.

Cass was a character I could definitely connect with. I think anyone who has ever disagreed with their parents' views (really, who hasn't?) could empathize with Cass's predicament. Cass is an atheist growing up in a deeply religious family. When a child becomes autonomous from their parents and begins to develop their own views on life, it can be a very interesting time and I enjoyed reading about this aspect of Cass's life, even though it was difficult for her. And as a note, religion obviously plays a bit of a role in this book, but it's not preachy at all because our narrator is a quietly rebelling atheist.

The other major theme here is bullying, both face-to-face and cyber-bullying. Bullying is an issue that is near and dear to me, so I'm always happy to see it addressed in YA books. And it was great to have aspects of cyber-bullying addressed as well. However, I was a little annoyed with how much Cass blamed herself for what happened, as their were other characters who played much bigger parts. That said, I probably would have felt the same was in Cass's position.

But don't worry, this book isn't all doom and gloom. There's a very sweet boy in the picture! Darin is pretty much everything I like in a YA love interest, so I was always smiling whenever he showed up! I also really liked that there were some significant sibling interactions, which I find are lacking in many YA books.

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always is a interesting YA contemporary that touches on a variety of issues, including religious, finding yourself, sexuality, friendship and bullying. It was a contemporary win for this fantasy reader!

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  1. Congrats on getting a really good time reading this YA contemporary book. For a time, I shied away from books like this one. Last year, all I ever read were dystopian books. I inhaled them all.

    Anyway, I really do like the review you did on this book. It made me want to read this, too. :)

  2. I'm so glad you tried a contemp and liked it! I have found myself liking them more and more the more I read them. This sounds like one I would connect with since I grew up in a deeply religious family and felt different. I was also bullied (in person) by other church members so that sounds like something else I would 'get'. I'm think I'm going to have to get this one!

  3. I used to totally avoid YA contemporary, too! There are some really great books out there, though. Glad you enjoyed this one!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  4. Oh I think I would really like this one. I'm not religious at all - and luckily my family isn't either - but I think I could really relate to her situation since I find I'm really interested in families who have different views especially when it comes to religion. I love seeing how they all defend what they believe in. Is this weird? haha. Anyways. This sounds really good and I like the hard themes that are part of this story, too. Great review!

  5. This sounds lovely, and like you contemporary YA hasn't been a genre pool I dip into very often...there are rare gems and I am so glad you enjoyed this,

  6. I am with you, I don't read a lot of contemporary, but when I do find a good one I enjoy them. I am sure I have a copy of this. I am curious about the religion and the bullying. I need to read this soon!