Opposite of Always
by Reynolds, Justin A.

Falling hard for a popular and charismatic girl who suddenly passes away, a grieving Jack finds himself traveling back in time to when they first met, only to find his efforts to prevent her death triggering unanticipated consequences. A first novel. 40,000 first printing.

*Starred Review* Reynolds' snappy, dialogue-driven debut is a coming-of-age story with a time traveling twist. High-school senior Jack King meets Kate extra cute at a party while he's visiting her college, and their chemistry is undeniable. But Kate's ill, and their romance is heartbreakingly short-lived. Her death, however, sends Jack back in time to the moment they first meet, and every time he fails to save her, he returns to that moment again, getting another chance at love and, in the process, learning valuable things about himself. But sometimes trying to save Kate ruins something else in his life, and each trip back becomes a careful balancing act. Though the plot builds a little slowly at first, when Reynolds hits his stride, this charming, wry novel packed with witty, crackling banter is propulsively readable. Reynolds imbues his diverse cast of characters with rich, dynamic personalities. Jack is particularly multifaceted: this nerdy, awkward black teen resists any easy categorization, and in his witty first-person narrative, readers see him gain even more depth and nuance with each new loop into the past. Kate, too, comes through as a well-rounded character, and it's a joy to watch their romance play out. There are some big questions about choice, consequences, loyalty, and love in this novel, and Reynolds beautifully complements those heavy concerns with the sweet, funny, and genuine voice of his protagonist. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Romeo and Juliet meets Groundhog Day and Love Story in this wonderfully romantic story of teenage love and second chances. What can Jack say about a college freshman girl who's dying? That she is beautiful and brilliant? That she loves writing, witty banter, and him? Or that he is destined to meet her over and over again? In this engrossing debut novel, Reynolds creates both a pair of unforgettable protagonists who are doomed to love, lose, and work to find one another again and again and a well-rounded cast of supporting characters. Jack King, who is African-American, is an only child, caught in a love triangle with his two best friends: Franny, a resilient and optimistic Latinx boy, and Franny's Italian-American girlfriend, Jillian, who is grappling with family issues-and who is the one who got away. All of that changes when Jack meets Kate, an African-American student tour guide, during his visit to her university. When she stands him up for prom, he is heartbroken&# 8212;even more so when he learns that she has a serious genetic condition. Among the best elements of this supernatural romance are the three-dimensional relationships between Jack and his parents and between him and his two best friends. A realistic teen drama that tackles complex subjects in an uncompromising way. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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