Title: Always Never Yours
Author: Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Genre: YA contemporary Romance
Themes: First love, belonging, family
Blurb (from Goodreads): 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.
Between rehearsals for her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet 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?
I think I’ve had enough of YA contemporary romances for the mean time. I think this about a lot of the things I read, but while this book was vaguely enjoyable, it felt boring. The show goes on. The dream college acceptance is achieved. The girl gets the guy (*spoiler*, but not really). All is well in middle-class, suburban America. Is it wrong of me to want more than this.
Like, I do like fun, fluffy romance stories. But I’ve read quite a lot of YA contemporary novels over the last 4 years or so. And to be honest, I’m kind of sick of them. I don’t need to take this out on this book, but I think it’s time for me to acknowledge that I have better things to do with my time than read stories about rich white people finding the love they deserve in high school. (I’m very glad I didn’t find the love of my life in high school, but I think the authors met in high school so I should be a bit less judgemental.).
Anyway, this book was fairly predictable and didn’t really stand out in any way. YA contemporaries I enjoy, I think, have something special about them; Simon Vs. is diverse and really well written, Radio Silence was super relatable and really well written and diverse, The Upside of Unrequited was really well written and relatable and diverse… you get the idea. While I did appreciate that Always Never Yours had a lot of Shakespeare in it, I personally am not the biggest Shakespeare fan and I kind of got sick of the characters relating all the things that happened in their lives to Romeo & Juliet.
There were some good things about this book, though. Megan is a serial dater, and I guess she could fit a label like ‘slut’, although she isn’t. I liked the subversion of that trope and the way that she was the main character and depicted as an actual human being with issues and not just a flirt who doesn’t want meaningful relationships. I liked the character of Owen, but I wish it had been more developed? I also liked the way Megan’s attitude to her family and perspective about where she belonged changed over the course of the book. Also, it has an A+ cover (although the girl totally looks like she could be of East Asian origin, which is what I thought when I first noticed this book)
Altogether, this was vaguely enjoyable, but when I only am reading a few books a month and I’ve read lots like Always Never Yours, it didn’t quite feel worth it.