Always Never Yours

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Middle-of-the-road YA offering that will probably be enjoyed by fans of To All the Boys I've Loved Before. The welcome focus on personal agency is somewhat undermined by the choices some characters make, but oh well.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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At first, the main character, Megan, stuck out to me, with her being the one that characters usually hate on in stories. She’s the one stealing all the guys from the regular girls. She’s a flirt with all the boys, and she welcomes the short, flighty romances…knowing at the start they won’t be lasting, and that once they move on from her, they will find their true love. She’s the one before. It was an interesting character design at first, but got kind of old, fast…I felt it was slightly overdone and unrealistic to the point pushed in the book. At the same time, Megan was naive, to the point of frustrating me, to what’s right in front of her face. I felt the the plot was a bit forced to play out a certain way, to completely solidify this character’s part for the purpose of the book, and then wrapped up all the angsty plot into a pretty little bow in the last 2 chapters. Besides these things, it was still a somewhat pleasant read. It’s pretty interesting how an entire town would revolve around Shakespeare, but also hard to believe. I read this as an ebook, very sporadically (only in evenings while sitting with my kids while they fall asleep, so short periods of time, even if daily), which may have contributed to my muted pleasure of this read. If I had read it as a hard copy, I may have enjoyed it more.
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Teenage angst in spades but so well played.

There is so much going on with Megan Harper.

First, she's a director, not an actor. But. She's the unwilling Juliet in the schools' performance and who is playing Romeo? Only her ex. Her gorgeous ex. The one who might have been the one. Who is now boyfriends with her bestie. 

It's fine. Totally, totally fine.

But to help her distract her (or is it just timing), she needs a new guy. She finds him in the hot new stagehand who...has been around forever. How did she not see him before? Oh, summer has been good to him. And lucky for her, this new guy is a kinda of mutual friend between her and Owen who plays the friar in the play. Owen, convenient--but also very cool--Owen can definitely help her with a hook-up. 

Not that she's looking for just a hook-up. She wants a boyfriend. Not that she would ever really admit that. 

But Owen knows.

Owen knows a lot of things. Especially for not knowing her particularly long. 

He's clever and his affection creeps up on her. He's the real deal and he is lovely. Perfect fit!

Here's what is interesting to me--an adult. 

The one thing (and it is a biggie) I don't like is that Megan--fabulous, dynamic, clever, loyal Megan--only finds her own value through her relationship to Owen. She has a strong voice as a director and she finds a way to overcome--or at least act professionally--prior heartbreak by getting on with her life. That's not all. Her family dynamic is extraordinarily stressful. But it is only Owen who voices how she needs to value herself.

When dropped against the 'boy-crazy' narrative, it seems perilously close to slut-shaming. Not by Owen but by character dynamics of the authors. On the one hand, the perception of Megan, having had so many boyfriends, it rings true. She could be perceived as someone who could be seen to be too loose with her body. On the other hand, She was never disingenuous with her ex--the only one she had sex with. She genuinely cared...maybe even loved him. In her own words, he wasn't special because he was her first...he was her first because he was special. Even so, she's taken on this personae as the girl before 'the one.' She dates a guy and--even while they are dating, maybe--he meets and finds his 'one' and it isn't her.

This treatment of the heroine, in my opinion, is problematic because it--and the fix in finding Owen--is treated so casually. This is a big, tough question. She could have owned her sexuality more. She could have found strength in pleasure, in finding her own way. She could have shared found body-positive, sex-positive messaging, stood up for herself in a different way. OR she could have said "You know what? This doesn't work for me." All of those would have, could have been more empowering than how this played out. The solution in the form of a new hot guy.

Nevertheless, the writing was charming. The angst authentic. The family, so real. The friend drama and recovery was amazing (all the stars for the part where friends realize they haven't been friends...then really step up to be better!) 

I would cautiously recommend this book for teenagers but with the caveat of having a discussion on the problematic treatment of the heroine's self-worth.
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This was such a fun read! A cute romantic story for YA is so nice to find. The main characters are written very well and they are written appropriately, A must read for anyone who loves a good cute romance.
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Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet provides the backbone for Always Never Yours, with each chapter beginning with a relevant quote from the play. In the novel  high school senior, Megan Harper has dreams of attending a prestigious directing program, but she must have at least one acting credit on her application.  She auditions for the smallest part in her school's production, but is cast as Juliet.  Megan has always considered herself a "Rosaline."  Her seven ex-boyfriends have all found true love right after dating her.  To make matters worse, her last boyfriend left her for her best friend, and now he is her co-star. Complications ensue!  Crushing on a new stagehand, Will, Megan enlists the help of Owen Okita, a new drama kid, who spends much of his time writing lyrics for Will's emo band and  gets her in ways no other boy ever has. But Megan, who can't see that he's obviously her perfect match, struggles to find what she truly wants. Their witty repartee makes this a deliciously fun read.   The husband and wife authors are high school sweethearts who fell in love over a shared love of the bard, which is reflected in this wonderful romantic comedy.
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Will Be Posted at on 11/23/2018
Summary: Megan Harper has spent her high school life being "The Girl Before".  Megan meets a boy, they date, and just as she starts to fall for him he leaves her for his true soulmate.  Megan has always been okay with being a fling and not the HEA girl but when she gets cast as the lead in her high school's production of Romeo and Juliet Megan decides that she is going to take control of her love life and catch her newest crush. However, when Megan meets Owen, who agrees to help Megan catch her crush in exchange for help with the new play he is writing, the two grow closer Megan begins to question what she wants out of a romance.

Review: The whole time I was reading Always Never Yours I kept trying to decide why I didn't love this book.  It's an entertaining book and I did genuinely like it but I didn't love it.  The plot and the characters all fall into categories that I usually love.  Megan was a strong female character who was smart and was (mostly) in control of her life but there was something about her that just never felt completely real.  It was if I was getting a character synopsis instead of a character.  The same issue can be found in her friend/love interest Owen.  He was cute and sweet and a genuinely great love interest but he never really came to life for me.  Adding, to the characters was a story that was able to be predictable but not too predictable but also not too surprising.  Basically, you could see where the plot was going but aspects of the plot felt a little unique.  The pieces of the book came together to create a story that was actually quite good but it wasn't completely satisfying.
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I did find the book entertaining, however I felt the "been there, done that" vibe with the book. It was enjoyable, but very predictable.
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Megan is navigating high school while trying to learn her lines in the play Tomeo and Juliet. Her parents are going through a divorce and Megan feels left out and torn apart. There is a very slow romance between Megan and Owen that warms the heart.
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I liked this story, although the trope of teen girls holding grudges forever is a bit overdone, in my opinion. The likelihood of events playing out as they did at the end with all the Juliet drama also didn't quite ring true.  As a high school teacher, I don't see things having gone the way they did.
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This book is incredibly heartwarming. From the beginning you are drawn to the characters and become extremely invested in their happiness. I read this book in one sitting because I just couldn't bear to put it down without knowing if Megan would ever find her love.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this! I'm always up for a friends-to-romance story, and this one delivered nicely. One thing that really struck me was how self-confident and self-aware Megan was, yet she learned so much about herself and upended so many of her self-perceptions over the course of the book - just really great character development here. Also, I really appreciated the sex-positive attitudes, and finally Owen was adorable!
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I appreciated the diverse characters in the story and the different family dynamics. Navigating life as an early adult is difficult and this story didn’t downplay that at all.
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Drama always happens in high school, but especially in drama class.  Putting together the play Romeo and Juliet is very complicated, especially learning your lines while focusing on your love life or lack of one. Megan has these troubles. She had so much going on in her life, but her best friend Madeleine helps through all.  This was a great book filled with very interesting characters. Thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I highly recommend this book!
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Originally posted on :

The family dynamics were super complex, as Megan’s family is incredibly torn apart. Always Never Yours takes an overused trope and turns it around flawlessly to create this amazing relationship. Interestingly, it’s not amazing in a loving way; Megan is struggling greatly with the fact that her parents are divorced and might just be leaving her behind with their newfound families. It is amazing because it is raw and real in ways I couldn’t be able to explain properly, and really shows Megan’s emotions about everything going on with her mom and dad.

If you’re not into slow-burn romance, consider anything and everything before picking this up. If I went on and on about how I felt while reading Megan and Owen’s romance, it would consist of a LOT of incoherent blabbering. I swooned, laughed, chuckled, giggled, rolled my eyes, and cried. It was one hell of a rollercoaster ride I wouldn’t mind getting on time and time again. I’m still speechless over how cute they were.

I couldn’t possibly tell you if this is plot-driven or character-driven. I wholeheartedly believe this novel is both. As minimal as some of the friendships were sometimes, they all had a purpose and everyone had a meaningful presence. The little page/screen time they got really makes you get to know their bright and unique personalities. I’m not into Shakespeare, I’ve never been into Shakespeare, and probably never will be. But as someone who hasn’t even read any of his plays, you can notice the heavy influences his work provides and it works greatly. The plot is heavily inspired by Romeo and Juliet, which paths the way for one of the most thrilling plotlines a YA contemporary has ever offered.

Always Never Yours is a co-authored book, so I had my doubts about whether the writing was going to be good and smooth. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. If I hadn’t known this book was by a duo beforehand, I probably would’ve never known. Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka‘s voices mesh so well together, I’m telling you, it left me dumbfounded. They wove their voices so nicely together, it became one, and I can safely say I’m in love.

One of the most pleasant surprises i got form this book was the diversity. The love interest, Owen, is Japanese-American. Anthony, Megan’s best friend, is biracial, having black and Mexican parents, and he’s gay. And there are several other Asian side characters thrown around. It is not diversity I can personally speak for, but some I really appreciate.

With sex-positive characters, heart-aching family dynamics, tons of Shakespeare references, a pizzeria legitimately based on Verona, and a romance to die for, Always Never Yours is a solid debut novel I can’t wait for  other people to read. It definitely became one of my favorite books of the year, and quite possibly, of all time.
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Could not put this book down!  The theater setting was realistic, as were all the struggles of the main character. I particularly loved watching her grow to see herself in a different light--that was more appealing than any romance.
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This book was really cute. It was a great story about self-fulfilling prophecies and overcoming self-doubt. I thought the main characters were really sweet and the Shakespearean atmosphere was really fun. I especially loved the emphasis that it was totally okay for a girl to be flirty and fun without being defined as skanky, or worse. Megan was respected by her classmates for her work in the theater and the boys seemed to be more intimidated by her flirtatiousness than trying to take advantage of it. I'd definitely recommend this to YA contemporary romance lovers.
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Always Never Yours is funny and sweet. Megan is a positive, sarcastic and adorable character.  I thought this story was well written and has the friendships, family and romantic buildup that a reader would expect from this genre. A very good YA Contemporary Romance!
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"I know what it's like to watch the people you care about replace you and never look back. I've gone through it eight times now."

To be frank, I bought this book only because it was written by a real-life couple. The idea of creating a novel with a loved one appealed to the romantic in me, and I wanted to see how two intimate people could integrate their unique voices into a single point of view. Since co-authored, YA contemporaries are typically he-said-she-said in nature, this one is a black sheep, but not in a bad way.

Gleaning upon the title, Always Never Yours is about Megan Harper, a girl who is always dumped by guys whom she thinks are hers for the taking. Strangely, every guy who breaks up with her sooner or later finds his "true love". Thus, Meagan believes that she is cursed or fated to be replaceable, a mere stepping stone for her beaus. This debilitating misconception continues to dominate Megan's life until it is challenged by Owen Okita, one of her fellow actors in their school's production of Romeo and Juliet.

It was actually my first time to read a YA book with such a "boy-hungry" protagonist. One of the issues tackled in Always Never Yours was slut shaming or the discrimination of girls who enjoy their sexuality to the fullest. I personally admire "demurely empowered" girls. Thus, though I acknowledge the consequences of slut shaming, I cannot say that I'm a fan of sexually active people. I'd rather have one meaningful romance in my lifetime than several fleeting ones. This is just my opinion, so you don't have to be affronted.

But I digress. In light of my convictions, I struggled to feel neutral about Megan. The way she flirted was indeed funny and witty. But sometimes, I really wanted her to stop evoking the lust of Owen and her other male peers. Furthermore, I was annoyed by Megan's penchant for self-deprecation. Whenever something bad happened, she made matters more complicated by jadedly blaming herself, saying that she shouldn't have expected anything good to come out of this or that.

To be fair, credit must be given to Megan's receptivity to rebuke or advice. In this regard, her low self-esteem was pretty helpful. It made her more willing to apologize and learn from her mistakes. If Megan had disregarded the counsel of her family and friends, she wouldn't have attained her happily ever after. All in all, Megan was not as mature as she was sexually empowered. Still, she did have some good moments in the book.

Another important topic explored in Always Never Yours was the blended family. One of the conflicts in the book stemmed from Megan's fear of being out of place in her own family. Megan's parents were divorced, but they eventually mustered the strength to build new families. Thus, Megan was stuck in between and didn't know where she really belonged. Despite its melancholic gravity, I was very intrigued by the family drama in this book because it made me fondly think of my grandmother. This is going to sound like an inside joke, but my lola has a lot to say about blended families. She raised her grandchild for a decade, and the latter now lives with her father and stepmother. Let's leave it at that before this review becomes too personal. xD

As a final note, I would like to discuss how this book reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss, which is controversial because of the glorified or sugarcoated cheating. Just like Anna and Etienne, Megan and Owen "made progress" at the expense of a current girlfriend who ended up being a mere plot device. The current/ex-girlfriend had no character development whatsoever. It was simply said that she was Cosima, an Italian whom Owen had met at some theater camp. Logically, Megan didn't feel guilty about breaking Owen and Cosima's long-distance relationship since it was supposedly "shallow". Really, should I explain or justify my indignation? My fondness for Owen's racial diversity and nerdy personality was nearly eclipsed by my dislike for his questionable morals.

With all that said, I gave Always Never Yours 2.5 stars. I was delightfully surprised by the cohesive writing of the authors, and I appreciated that they made an effort to discuss important topics like slut shaming and blended families. Unfortunately, I wasn't completely pleased by the character arcs of Megan and Owen. In the end, this book will stay on my bookshelf just because it can inspire me to write a novel with a special someone someday.
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I liked the idea of this but the writing was flat, but I struggled with Megan  as a character, she came off as very shallow. Owen was a welcome arrival and I liked Anthony even though he felt more like a stereotype of the black gay best friend trope I've seen in a lot of YA lately. 2.5 Stars
eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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