Monday, February 11, 2019

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds Arc Review: My 2nd Favorite of the Year. I'm Already Calling It.


Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
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Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . . 

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.
Opposite of Always is a heartfelt and stunning debut; that is worthy of all praise.

I am in love with this book; its story, and the way it made me feel.

Jack is a boy in love with a girl, that keeps dying—over and over again. 

Most importantly, he’s a black boy in love with a black girl—and the importance of that is immeasurable.

Every death is an opportunity to fall in love with Kate again. It's a chance to right wrongs, fix relationships—and to do things differently. But what happens when you start flubbing with the future, by changing up the past?

Jack is a treasure trove of humor and black boy joy. His character stumbles along in love and fruitless determination; to keep the girl that keeps slipping through his fingers time and time again. 

Kate is a girl in love with a boy--whose time gets shortened unexpectedly.

Their love is serendipitous and being able to experience it is a treat I won’t take lightly. 
Between the romance and the friendships, this reader’s heart is full to the brim.

This book is everything I’ve been hoping to find in black YA; a positive story—that allows for black joy, growth, and love to be the star. It is paramount to the catalog of black YA as a whole. It’s imperative that teens get to see more happiness, joy, and positivity with a black face at the helm. 

Aside from the novel's importance, is the writing: that is eloquent and easy-to-follow. It pulls you in and does not let go; until the book is complete.

The characters were expertly-crafted, and have found a place in my heart. I felt every word--every rise and fall. I won't forget this story. I want to hand it to every black child that passes me by so they can see, you get a love story, too--and it can be beautiful.

It's beautiful. I am a love-sick puddle of goo. The way the book deals with sci-fi (the time-traveling) while maintaining a strong contemporary voice is genius. It has earned its place as my second favorite novel of the year. 

I highly recommend it.

PS: Cheers to the author for including sickle cell disease in his novel. Most people don't talk about it, or even know what it entails. It is a disease that is prevalent in the black community--and cheers to him for how he dealt with and handled it. Reynolds, you're all right by me.

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