18 October, 2013

#BookReview ::Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole

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? 

Cassandra Randall is a self-proclaimed atheist belonging to a very religious family. So when her teacher sets an assignment to write a poem to reflect themselves, she is stuck. She could never reveal what she truly feels because she feels that it might hurt her parents. Then there’s the matter of her very gay brother. Then as she gets her hand on a Tarot deck, she anonymously starts a tarot blog and dishing out advice based on her readings. But things start to spiral out of her control – she betrays a friend, her brother faces the wrath of homophobes and there’s the case of cyber-bullying that finally forces her to face the reality of her situation.

Cassandra a.k.a Cass is a character is a character who is easy to relate to at certain points. For instance her atheism while being surrounded by her religious family is just a reflection of how each individual can have different outlook even when surrounded by people who believe in the complete opposite. Plus teenager disagreeing with their parents is a well-explored territory. However, there were times when I really got frustrated with Cass. Her stubborn streak and her casual treatment of Drew really irritated me – the hypocrisy in the situation bugged me a lot. Then there is Cass’s brother – a gay boy in a family whose religion seem to consider being gay as something abnormal. Cass’s intention of trying to protect her brother is truly heart-warming.  I also liked Cass’s teacher – he is the sort of person we all need – to know our capabilities, to understand when we are stuck and to give that push when it is needed but never too strict or overbearing.

The plot line is simple enough and as a reader I knew how the story was going to end. But it was Cass’s journey that mattered. She was human after all and a teenager at that. So her mistakes were understandable. I also like the way the author handled various sensitive themes of religion, morals and cyber bullying. While the book was never preachy, Cass’s religious parents brought in some flavours to the story as did the reaction of homophobes and the effect of it on Eric. The most important focus, I thought, was on cyber-bullying. How something that started with innocent rebellion could turn into something malicious and the effect it can have on the victim was truly handled well.

Overall, it was okay and I would recommend it to contemporary YA fans.

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