“Don’t undervalue yourself … My feelings matter, too. I’m tired of pretending they don’t.”
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It’s inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.
So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.
Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare’s R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.
In their fresh and funny debut, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka break down the high school drama to find there’s always room for familial love, romantic love, and—most importantly—self-love.
Publication Date: 2018
Earlier this year, I read and fell in-love with Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka’s If I’m Being Honest … I’m pretty sure it’s the only book I raved about for a solid month. The characters, plot and themes discussed in that novel are just extraordinary … but I didn’t realize I hadn’t read their first book they released until afterwards.
Always Never Yours is a pretty adorable high-school romance story, full of quirky characters and comical scenes. Both of these novels just prove how wonderful both Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka are as authors.
↠ Pro 1. I LOVE the amount of focus towards personal growth and the importance of valuing oneself in this story! Megan Harper, our main protagonist, is a strong and independent woman — but she lacks the ability to find value in herself, something that she doesn’t realize fully at the beginning of the novel. Throughout the story, we see her jump all over the map in character development, taking a few steps forward and back as one does in life. But ultimately, the readers get to see Megan’s beautiful transition from devaluing herself to wanting respect. Her main quirks and traits remain, but she becomes even more phenomenal. There’s also quite a bit of character growth for many of the reoccurring characters, which is rather enjoyable.
↠ Pro 2. Always Never Yours not only has a lovable cast of characters, but provides a wealth of diversity. Honestly, these characters are SO MEMORABLE! Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka have VERY MUCH mastered the art of crafting intriguing characters, ones you begin to care for as though they were your real life friends. But the amount of diversity is just wonderful: an Asian main character, a black and gay friend, a strong woman who defies social constructs, different types of family dynamics, and much more. It makes the setting and environment of the novel feel more authentic and relatable.
↠ Pro 3. That slow-burn romance is just incredible! Oh boy … if you LOVE a good slow-burn and well-developed romance, you’re in for a treat! Watching these two characters slowly realize their attraction and feelings for one another was a delight, gradually seeing the light-bulb turn on for them both throughout the story. The best part though is seeing the two get to know one another, finding out one another’s quirks and hobbies and passions through the bond of friendship first. IT’S-SO-GOOD!!!
↠ Pro 4. The sex-positivity and little “slut shaming” is a breath of fresh air, especially in the realm of YA literature. A HUGE pet peeve of mine is the “anti-sex and intimacy” message and “shaming women based off of sexist standards” in literature … thank GOSH for this novel! Megan is known for … well, experimenting sexually. And she’s not ashamed. But what I like is that MOST of the students in the school don’t judge her for that, even though she’s a woman and there TENDS to be different standards in that regard. But it goes beyond this. Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka explore how sex isn’t this taboo thing … it’s natural. The message at the end tells readers that whether they want to explore sex or wait until they’re older and/or married, both options are allowed … and no one should be judged for choosing either.
Note: They also present in a subtle way to perform protected sex if one plans to, which I REALLY think is important in not only YA but all forms of literature!
↠ Woe 1. The resolution of Megan’s family tension felt too abrupt. A large part of Megan’s character growth revolves around the feeling of her family leaving her behind, that notion of being unwanted — which ends up moving into other parts of her life. Near the end, she has a heart to heart with her family, but the build up didn’t match the end result. With this being a LARGE part of Megan’s character development, I was hoping for more attention to this and more exploration between Megan and her family. It’s not the worse thing ever, but it left me feeling slightly disappointed.
↠ Woe 2. As adorable as this book is, I found it hard to get invested in at first. Maybe due to the little going on, but it took me a while to get into this story and the characters. It’s as though there was nothing GRABBING my attention. But once I was past the quarter point, the rest of the read went by incredibly quick (one day, to be accurate).
↠ Woe 3. The cheating to love trope … again. If the characters RECENTLY break up with someone and then move on, I’m okay with that … sometimes that’s how feelings work. But this “cheating with no consequences” trope is starting to get on my nerves … it’s not necessary to have this in a romance story to make it passionate and daring. There are some side characters who pay for cheating on someone, so I will give the authors credit for that. But it REALLY irks me, since it sends a really bad message to readers. It’s not the WORSE form of cheating I’ve seen and I know people make mistakes, but it’s still not a good trope.
Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka’s Always Never Yours is a powerful story about the importance of valuing oneself and learning to remove those walls we all tend to build for ourselves. The characters push past their fears and insecurities, learning to live in the moment rather than plan the future entirely. Looking for an adorable YA romance? This may be the one for you!
I DO recommend this novel if you enjoy:
↠ Diverse and memorable characters
↠ Slow burn romances
↠ Sex-positivity and lack of sexist standards
↠ Character growth
I DON’T recommend this novel if you dislike:
↠ Cheating to lovers trope
↠ Slow moving plots
↠ Fairly linear plots
Have you read Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka’s Always Never Yours?