Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always
by Elissa Janine Hoole
Expected Publishing Date: November 8, 2013
Length: 360 pages
Obtained Via: Given an e-ARC by publisher on Netgalley in exchange for honest review(I receive no compensation for this review)
Format Read In: electronic ARC
View at the Traffic light:
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?
Conservative religions, tarot cards, and cyber-bullying. All three of these things are found in Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always, along with a whole host of other issues, minor and otherwise. And while I did like the book by the end, there’s a reason for that yellow traffic light up there. I think this book suffered from a small case of too many issues, not enough space, at least at the beginning. About a quarter or so through I think Hoole really found her footing with the story and ultimately, Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always did a decent job of tackling some tough issues.
Cass is a difficult main character to like. She’s wishy-washy, and while I know that most YA stories are coming of age tales, I felt Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always drew too much attention to that aspect. Instead of letting Cass’ development progress naturally, there might have been giant signs at time(especially in the first half, which as you can tell was my least favorite), that might as well have said “Look at me! This is character development!” Cass doesn’t know herself well at all, which made her a difficult character to root for. Luckily, I really enjoyed some of the supporting characters in the book, like Eric, Cass’ brother.
There was also a bit too much telling in this book at times for my liking, especially as it related to the church that Cass’s family attended. You get the idea that they’re a really strict church, but it was sometimes HARD to get a handle on their ideas and how it effected Cass directly. So much of the time when Cass is at the church or dealing with issues that arise because of it, the narration all happens inside of Cass’ own head and I felt all the descriptions were really foggy.
Despite my numerous complaints, once the book reached about 40% and decided what it was actually about, I found the story really engaging. Once the cyberbullying issue became apparent, I thought Hoole handled the situation in a way that was realistic and didn’t play down the many complexities. At this point I finally began to care for Cass and want her to succeed. The characters grew in dimension and pretty much all my favorite parts of the book were in the second half. While I wish it had started stronger, I have to give this book credit for it’s strong final impression.
Final Impression: Despite the rocky beginning, I liked this book by the end, once things started coming together and I felt a coherent story was being told. It was a great look at cyber-bullying and I think readers who stick it through to the end will gain from it, because I can see why people might choose to pass on this one. 3/5 cupcakes.