Overall Rating: 3/5
Quality of Prose: 3.5/5
Quality of Story: 3/5
Quality of Characters: 3.5/5
Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 2/5
How Long It Took Me to Finish: 3 days
A 1 Sentence Summary
When best friends Dave and Julia started high school, they created a list of “Nevers,” cliche high school rites of passage that they refused to participate in, but as high school comes to a close 4 years later, they decide to complete every item on the list, including #10, “never date your best friend.”
My Favorite Quotes
“Love traveled, it ran, it covered ground, eager to see more, do more. It was two people keeping pace with each other.”
“Human beings are more or less formulas. We are not any one thing that is mathematically provable. We are more or less than we are anything. We are more or less kind, or more or less not. More or less selfish, happy, wise, lonely. Just like things are rarely always true or never true, we aren’t ever exactly one thing or another. We are more or less.”
What I Loved About It
Never Always Sometimes is an enjoyable read, a light-hearted novel that encapsulates the fervor, fear, and nostalgia of the last months of high school in a way that few other novels do. It didn’t change my life or give me a book hangover like all my favorite books do, but I definitely had fun reading it.
Alsaid’s prose is great. Though it wasn’t immediately evident, Alsaid’s characters are fleshed out and interesting. While reading the first half of the book (from Dave’s perspective), I was not a fan of Julia. And then, just like that, Alsaid changes perspectives and you get to read Julia’s side of things and you quickly find she is just as complex and likable a character as Dave. The switch in point-of-view certainly makes the book more interesting and enjoyable. And though the book’s plot is all about cliches, the novel itself refreshingly avoids all the high school coming-of-age romance cliches. Its ending is unexpected and real and bittersweet, much like the ending of high school itself.
What My Students Could Learn From It
This isn’t really the kind of book you read to give you a new perspective or to change how you think or feel about something, so I can’t honestly say my students could learn much from it.
But I do think it’s a great, perfectly nostalgic coming of age novel for kids to read in the months leading up to their high school graduation. I also think reading Never Always Sometimes could make kids realize that while they shouldn’t avoid all the typical high school rites of passage like Dave and Julia tried to, it’s important to remain an individual when everyone around you is content to conform (which, in case you don’t remember, is high school in a nut shell).