Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole – Review

October 23, 2013 Review 2 ★★★★

inanutshell2Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always is a book about a girl trying to figure out who she is while everyone around her is determined to tell her. This sort of story could have been filled with cliches and felt very preachy, but it didn’t – which is why I enjoyed it.

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole – ReviewRelease Date: November 8, 2013
Title: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always
Author: Elissa Janine Hoole
Pages: 360
Publisher: Flux Books
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: 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?
4 Stars

I requested this book because I thought I might relate to it. My family became very religious during my later teen years. And I had a secret obsession with the occult.

Of course, I had no idea what a blog was back then so I never did what Cass did – but were I re-living those days now I’m sure I would.

It’s difficult enough trying to figure out who you are as you’re growing up. But when you throw a family and community into the mix who are convinced that the thoughts and feelings you have are evil – it makes it a hell of a lot harder.

But Cass wasn’t the most interesting character in this book to me – that honor fell to her brother. He was struggling with the idea that he was gay, while still trying to uphold his faith. His story was more interesting to me. He was very hypocritical it seemed – he was constantly telling Cass how wrong she was for her website and how worried he was for her soul – when he was himself engaging in something his church damns him for. But I understand it. I honestly do. It was a realistic depiction of how these things evolve and take over your life, your emotions. and your thoughts.

Unfortunately, websites are shady things. We’ve all heard the phrases “don’t feed the trolls” and “don’t read the comments.” People in Cass’ school took the opportunity to use her website as an anonymous way to bully the people who came to her for advice. Way harsh, Tai. The comments made were awful. And Cass decided that she didn’t need to moderate the comments because she wasn’t the one making them. It wasn’t until they hit a little too close to home that she intervened – but by then the damage was already done.

I think Cass’ story is a familiar one. Internet fame, albeit anonymous internet fame, can make you feel special. Popular. Important. And you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that – even if it means compromising who you are and maybe sacrificing a few friendships along the way.

I won’t tell you what happened in the end, but I’m sure you can guess at least parts of it – since it does have a very after-school special feel to it (literally). But the message was a good one. It was handled well and was far less cliched than I expected it to be.

What Others Are Saying:

  • Bean Bag DiariesTeenage life is a roller coaster ride, one that has a million twists and turns, has occasional attacks of streaming water and chooses to let you hang upside down for a little while. Elissa Janine Hoole has been quite successful in showing  that kind of a life.
  • Infected Loser: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always was a story about finding out who you are and who you want to be.
  • Istyria Book BlogThe writing was good and the characters were well-developed and all… but it focused on religion a lot. A bit too much for me.


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