BAYA Book Review

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

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Reynolds, Justin. Katherine Tegen Books: 2019 457ph $17.99 ISBN: 9780062748379 *****

Opposite of Always,

Jack meets Kate while he’s taking a college tour and she is the guide. They meet again on the steps at a campus party. What starts as banter ends up in an all-night hangout and a breakfast of froot loops. But that instant chemistry is tested over the next four months. Kate’s health challenge and drama among Jack’s two best friends (who are also dating each other) including a set of parents going through a divorce and a father about to be released from prison bring them back to reality over and over again. Jack has a great family and stable life but it’s tough trying to balance everything: his family, his friendships, his new love, her health, all while running against a time-travel clock. When time is running down will he be able to get where he needs to be in time to make the right move? And if he’s not, then what? Another chance to do it differently? And another? But how many chances does one couple get to get their destiny right?

This is a thoroughly adorable romance with diverse characters and an oddball time travel twist. These genre mash-ups can be challenging to describe, but in this case, it is clearly more of a contemporary romance than sci-fi. This title fits squarely in with Nicola Yoon and John Green and Jandy Nelson. There are some absolutely frustrating gaps in the logic characters use, but mostly it is a fun romance with some big issues thrown in. Pacing in time travel books is tricky, but Reynolds gets it right here with the first arc of the story going deepest and future arcs ramping up the action to drive the plot to a fairly satisfying conclusion. A quirky romance with two black protagonists on the cover, this one will probably sell itself. But if it’s on the shelf, don’t hesitate to hand this one to teens who wish they could try something big over again.

-Andrea Mullarkey Berkeley Public Library, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch

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