Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siedgemund-Broka – YA Heroine Finds Love on Shakespearean Stage

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siedgemund-Broka – YA Heroine Finds Love on Shakespearean Stage
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ABOUT the BOOK
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Speak (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: 2018
Genre: Fiction; Secular Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher Provided – thank you, Speak!
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Rating: ★★★ ½


High school senior Megan Harper has a history. A history no one would be keen to repeat, and yet for Megan, it does. Her history with dating ends in anything but “happily ever after.” You see every guy she dates falls madly in love… only it’s never with her. Right after she and her boyfriend break up, they find the person they’re meant to be with. The latest is Tyler, her ex, who is now dating her best friend. Awkward, right? Maybe, but Megan’s totally cool with this. 

During their senior play, Megan becomes interested in a cute stage hand named Will. But so far he seems pretty clueless, which is where Will’s friend Owen comes in. As Megan tries to navigate school, organize the senior showcase (which she needs for her college application), the possibility of a new romance and her dysfunctional family, Megan’s once semi-normal world starts to fall apart. 



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From the moment I read the synopsis of this novel, I knew it sounded like something I’d want to take a second look at. Indeed the more I noticed it on shopping carousels or on Goodreads, the more I knew it would be something I’d simply “have” to read. Not only is its synopsis adorable, its cover design (look at the motion, those colors, and that font?!) and title was also a strong influence. Unfortunately, for any one pro, there’s usually two cons. 

The novel’s premise is unique and one of the cutest ideas I’ve seen in a while. It has a story that “pops” off the page, and might have worked really well were it not for one thing. These characters treat relationships way too casually. Perhaps I’m being unreasonable saying this in consideration of the immaturity of the characters, but I still feel it’s a negative. Admittedly, the plot does kind of suggest multiple relationships. But even at this, multiple relationships and treating them casually doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. In this case, they are. 


This would be my one “big” complaint about this story. Otherwise, if you look past this, it is cute. Its basic premise is darling. There are a few fun subplots including one that involves a high school Shakespeare play, and Megan’s dysfunctional family dynamics. Then there’s Megan herself. Irrespective of her unwise choices, I found her to be a very interesting and complex character. She uses her failed relationships as a convenient excuse why she’s not currently in a successful relationship. Underneath, as any good character should, she has her virtues and vulnerabilities, just waiting for the right person to bring them out. 


If you’re looking for a quick summer read to enjoy (and you don’t mind the secular mindset), Always Never Yours is worth adding to the list. It’s an easy read that inspired me to keep flipping its pages, eager to learn what comes next for Megan - and unlike the Shakespearean character this protagonist is playing, Megan’s story finally gets its happy ending. 


Content note: this is a secular YA novel so it contains multiple uses of the f-word (20 or so) plus various other commonplace profanities. The idea of love is treated very casually as evidenced by the character’s eagerness to “hook up,” which is something implied throughout much of the novel; Megan in particular treats relationships with a careless attitude. (There are about 2-3“fade to black” sexual situations.) There is also a subplot involving a same-sex relationship. 

Synopsis: Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible. 

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script. 

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story? – Goodreads

Coming Next from Austin and Emily, As We Go Forth: Dana Leydig at Puffin has acquired two novels by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley. The first, As We Go Forth, is a contemporary romance told in alternating perspectives; it features Juniper and Fitz, two high school seniors with vastly different views about the future, who meet unexpectedly on their respective college tours. Publication is planned for spring 2020; Katie Shea Boutillier at Donald Maass Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world English rights. – Goodreads 

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book; all opinions are my own.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for this review, Rissi! I just got a review request for this book, and I remembered you'd said you were reading it, so I came right over here to see what you thought :-) This does sound adorable, but I think I'll pass due to the content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's sad really because the premise IS darling. (And that cover!!) Unfortunately, yes, the adult content is "there" just because it can be - i.e. because it's a secular YA and that's allowed. Made the story less enjoyable. :)

      Thanks so much for swinging by to read the review. :)

      Delete

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