I’m so happy to be doing a review of Always Never Yours for the blog tour!
Always Never Yours, by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley
A contemporary Shakespeare-inspired YA from a fantastic new author couple! What’s it like to play the understudy in your own love story?
Megan Harper is the girl before . . . just like Rosaline from Romeo and Juliet. Every one of Megan’s relationships has ended the same way–her ex replaces her with someone perfect. But instead of crying over every breakup, Megan spends her time on her two passions: pursuing her next fling and directing theater. She hates the spotlight, and she’s hoping to fulfill her college program’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible. But then Megan’s theater teacher casts her to play none other than Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet–and she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright. In exchange for Megan’s help writing a play, Owen agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a hot hipster stagehand. Between rehearsing and contending with her dad’s plans to move with Megan’s pregnant stepmom to New York, Megan begins to realize Owen– thoughtful,
unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes–might be the Romeo she never expected. Better yet, with him, she might finally be a Juliet.
Raised by a school librarian, Austin’s always had a passion for books, especially books for young people. He met and fell in love with Emily in high school and went to Harvard University for undergrad. He studied English (focusing on Shakespeare) and graduated magna cum laude in 2014. Recently, Austin worked as a journalist for The Hollywood Reporter and was a UCLA law student; however there’s nothing he he loves like writing with Emily. Emily, whose parents are screenwriters, has loved writing and story-telling since an age she hardly remembers. Since meeting Austin (she says it was middle school–accounts vary), Emily attended Princeton University for undergrad, studied psychology, and graduated magna cum laude in 2014. While at Princeton, she wrote the first novel in her self-published YA fantasy trilogy, The Last Oracle, which was featured in USA Today and was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Always Never Yours was such an entertaining contemporary novel! I just finished reading Romeo & Juliet in my English class this past semester, and I was so happy to catch all the references (and there were many)! As far as the content of the book, it was good, but not great. There were a few things that could have played out differently, and I would have loved to see it! This novel contains many typical YA romance tropes, and I think the authors could have been more original as far as the storytelling went. We had the typical high school setting, the perfect best friend, the girl that gets around, etc. Even though some of these tropes were typical, others played out nicely in order to benefit the story. As I mentioned, I think the authors could have gone different ways to really diversified the storytelling and make it more original.
Another thing I would have liked to see were more developed characters. Our protagonist was written well, but some of the supporting characters felt written, not real. I love a character driven story (more so than a plot-driven one), and that was one thing that lacked for me. I did enjoy the family dynamic throughout the story, though! Megan’s family had some flat points, but for the most part they were 3-dimensional. She struggles with fitting in with her family: Her dad has remarried and has a child with his new wife, and Megan’s mom is halfway across the country with a new life. Her struggle with finding her place is a real one that was represented very well.
A strong point in this novel is theater. It really takes the stage (#pun) in this story, and I love it! So often, hobbies are discarded or mentioned once and never again in stories. In this one, though, theater drives everything that happens. It was so nice to see a story focused on theater, and doing it so well. It showed that the authors had done research and had knowledge on the subject. Megan’s passion for theater is obvious, and it influences many of her decisions as far as relationships and school go.
Overall, I really enjoyed Always Never Yours and the story it told! I would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a lighthearted contemporary, especially if you’re interested in theater and/or Shakespeare! I gave it a rating of 3.5/5 stars!