Books Magazine

New Release Friday: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always

By Crossstitchyourheart @TMNienaber

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole

Anticipated Publication, November 8, 2013

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Bullying in highschools, whether cyber or otherwise, is a hot topic right now but one that deserves the attention.  Being a teenager is hard, everything seems like the end of the world and everyone feels like they need to be part of a group, even if it means uniting over the isolation of one person.  Hoole’s novel tries to tackle this issue in a sensitive but real way.  Tries, but gets bogged down with other major issues  she’s trying to tackle as well.  Leaving a fairly simple plot overcomplicated with “big picture” issues that none of them gets the attention they deserve and rather than being realistic and touching the plot is more like a shelf, built for the soul purpose of holding issues but not really anything on its own.

The issues Hoole tries to drop into her plot include: bullying which takes the spot of most importance as it’s the only one of these issues that actually works as a driving force of the plot, overly zealous religion, teens coming to terms with beliefs different from their parents, homosexuality, atheism, tarot card readings,  coming of age, finding yourself, learning who your friends are.

It’s a lot to happen in a relatively sort space.  Any one of these issues could have made a decent book on its own (and many excellent YA books have been done on all of these topics).

Main character Cass decides she’s boring and wants to do something that’s really “her” but doesn’t know who she is.  So Cass decides to pick the one thing her youth group councilor has just warned them all against (and as a side note, I really don’t see why religious youth groups need to be painted in such a negative light, some of them actually do a lot of good, they aren’t evil) and buys a pack of tarot cards.  Then strange girl Drew tries to reach out to Cassandra, who pushes her away, cool kids get involved, bullying on the secret tarot card sight ensues, and then Cass’s gay brother decides to come out to their fundamentalist parents.

It’s a complicated plot.  It didn’t need to be.

Hoole has actually written this book very well.  She shows the ability to create dynamic characters capable of growth (except maybe Cass’s love interest the manic-pixie dream boy) and a plot that could have tackled difficult issues in an interesting plot. The fortune telling/tarot card blog is interesting and a cool way to drive the plot forward.  But for all the hype, it really doesn’t play a big roll.  The one piece of this novel that could have turned it into something is underused.

While I wouldn’t write Hoole off as a YA author just yet, this novel just needed to be scaled back.  There is so much could competition out there that just talking about a modern topic isn’t enough to make the book worth reading.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher

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