cover image Opposite of Always

Opposite of Always

Justin A. Reynolds. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-274837-9

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. [em]Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt Zacker Literary Agency; rights, the Bent Agency. (Mar.) [/em]