Friday, January 17, 2014
Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole
349 pages, YA Contemporary
My rating: 3.5 stars
Cassandra fears rocking the family boat. Instead, she sinks it. Assigned by her English teacher to write a poem that reveals her true self, Cassandra Randall is stuck. Her family's religion is so overbearing, she can NEVER write about who she truly is. So Cass does what any self-respecting high school girl would do: she secretly begins writing a tarot-inspired advice blog. When Drew Godfrey, an awkward outcast with unwashed hair, writes to her, the situation spirals into what the school calls "a cyberbullying crisis" and what the church calls "sorcery." Cass wants to be the kind of person who sticks up for the persecuted, who protects the victims the way she tries to protect her brother from the homophobes in her church. But what if she's just another bully? What will it take for her to step up and tell the truth?
My 2 cents
This was definitely one the most interesting contemporaries I've read this year. It focuses on Cass and her very religious family. I have very strong feelings about religion in society in general, and this book just confirmed those feelings. I didn't love it, but that may have been a more personal taste kind of thing.
The book itself is good--the writing was excellent, and I wasn't bored at anytime through it. This book might have gotten 4 stars except for the one thing that really irked me--the perpetration of the Tarot. I myself am not Wiccan, but I have used the Tarot for years. And this is one of those subjects that's really hard to portray in a YA novel, so I will forgive the author that. The Tarot was either portrayed as evil Devil's work, or something really silly, kind of like a fortune teller's game. I don't want to get all preachy, but neither is correct.
Moving on! The part of the novel that had my glued was Cass's older brother, who is gay and trying desperately to hide it from their parents. Cass and her brother are extremely close, and she worries about him. The story has a lot of bullying going on, and I loved how the author took Cass's character, and made her a standby bully with the outcast, Drew, or standby victim, concerning her brother. Cass was really on a tightrope, and the bullying part of the story felt very realistic. This is what made the book so relevant to today's world. I think a lot of people are standby bullies or victims and I loved how the novel showed this in a realistic way.