Opposite of always / Justin A. Reynolds.
Booklist Reviews 2018 December #1
*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.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2019 Fall
In this contemporary-set, time-bending love story, African American teens Jack (a high school senior) and Kate (a college freshman) meet at a party and fall in love. After Kate dies of complications from sickle cell disease, Jack begins to travel back in time over and over trying to save her. Jack is an everyday hero readers will root for as Reynolds spins this poignant, dizzying tale of love and loss. Copyright 2019 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2019 #2
From the opening sentence—"My face is mashed sideways against the trunk of a police cruiser when Kate dies for the third time"—we know that this time-bending (think Groundhog Day) contemporary-set love story will be out of the ordinary. Jack Ellison King (named after Jackie Robinson and Ralph Ellison), a bright, witty high school senior, meets college freshman Kate at a party and falls head-over-heels in love with her. What should be a happy occasion is fraught with the unexpected as his longtime best friend (and sometime-crush), Jillian, starts acting strangely around him and he discovers that Kate is keeping a secret. Then, at what should be the highlight of his year—senior prom—the unthinkable happens. Kate dies of complications from sickle cell disease, and Jack begins to travel back in time over and over trying to save her. Jack is an everyday hero readers will root for in a story that emphasizes how messy and complicated growing up can be while blurring the lines between life and death, dreams and reality. Reynolds spins a poignant, dizzying tale of love and loss in this page-turning time-travel fantasy. monique harris March/April 2019 p 88 Copyright 2019 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2019 January #1
Ask African-American high school senior Jack who he is and he'll tell you: he's an only child, and the king of "nice try" and "almost." Unlike his best friend Franny, he never makes the team. And he doesn't get the girl because he's in love with his other best friend, Jillian, who's dating Franny. But Jack does learn from his mistakes, and he has lots of opportunities to try again when he finds himself in a time loop. It starts when his first girlfriend—who is already in college and into him despite his corniness—dies of sickle cell anemia, which Jack didn't know she had. He plummets into a do-over, and then another, but for everyone else, it's always the first time. Watching Jack scheme to save Kate at any cost, including ignoring his friends, betraying Franny, gambling, and lying, is both touching and worrying for the reader. Though Kate feels a little too perfect and Reynolds, an #OwnVoices debut author, occasionally hits the message (about loving people while they're around) a little hard, he also creates an enormously likable character who is doing the best he can and then some. Happily, the book's blend of humor and heartbreak wins out. Ages 14–up. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt Zacker Literary Agency; rights, the Bent Agency. (Mar.)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.