Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-BrokaAlways Never Yours by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka
Published by Penguin on May 22, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Shouldn't a girl get to star in her own love story?

Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It's inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college's acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.

Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare's R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.

In their fresh and funny debut, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka break down the high school drama to find there's always room for familial love, romantic love, and—most importantly—self-love.

Dahlia told me to read this one even before it came out, but I didn’t have a review copy, so it just didn’t happen until now. I may not be the most timely in reading recommendations, but it’s not that I’m ignoring them! The covers for their next couple books were also strong inducements; this one looked a bit less fluffy, especially paired with the title. Friends, I am happy to report that this book is, in fact, quite fluffy and with points of delicious depth of literary analysis.

The heroine, Megan Harper, thinks she’s cursed to be the girl she dates before a guy figures out his actual true love. Time and time again, she’s dated a guy, only for him to end up breaking up with her to date someone else, and all of those couples have stayed together and happy. It sucks obviously, but she’s resigned to her fate and determined to enjoy the boys while she has them. She’s fun, flirty, and popular, even staying friends with exes. Actually, she does find it comforting to know that, though they leave her, they leave for something real and important.

This premise could go so wrong, but Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka really dive in to the psychological aspects underpinning Megan’s belief system. She’s a deeply complex character, and all of the ways this impacts her and the ways she interprets everything gets unpacked. Though Megan stays upbeat, this has been hard on her, especially as she’s mentally written herself into a secondary role in her own story.

Cleverly balanced against that, Megan lands a starring role in the school play, Romeo and Juliet, even though she only wanted a small role. See, Megan doesn’t want to be an actress; she wants to be a director, but, to get into the school of her dreams, she needs an acting credit. Megan’s pissed to be stuck playing Juliet, who she finds insipid and weak, and scared of the pressure of the leading role.

Often when novels focus heavily on other books, I don’t find that much of a highlight, because the insights aren’t particularly unique or thought-provoking. Admittedly, they might be newer to teens, but I was still so much more impressed with the work done here. Megan’s interpretation of Juliet in her performance is like nothing I’ve experienced before, and the insights that she and Owen gain over time into both Juliet and Rosaline are clever. Any teen who reads this before studying this book in English class will have some great things to contribute to class discussions. Obviously I don’t need that, but I love literary interpretation, so I nerded out so hard about all of that.

In having to take on the starring role, Megan confronts a lot about herself, with the help of Owen Okita, an adorable costar and aspiring playwright. I loved the way that Megan learned immeasurably from taking a turn on the stage and the way it helped her direct more effectively. But I also love that, at the end of the day, she doesn’t find a new passion for acting; she still wants to be a director. There’s a lot of pressure on her throughout for Romeo and Juliet and the piece she’s directing for a showcase, and I loved that she was allowed to be great at what she was doing, through hard work and determination.

The romance between Megan and Owen is absolutely adorable. I’m not usually a big friends to lovers shipper, but in this case you see them become friends and then slowly become more, which isn’t something that happens a lot. It worked so well for me, because you get to see how well they get along and how well they work together. They have firm foundations and a lot of trust. When a stereotypical melodrama moment occurs, they’re able to get through it in a mature way, rather than everything flying into a giant whirlwind of miscommunication.

So, yes, I loved this book. That said, I did have a couple of issues. First, the writing and the voice went in and out for me. It wasn’t quite as voicey as I wanted to be, possibly a side effect of two people writing one character. It’s a debut, though, and I’m confident they’ll only improve from here, and this is a great start. Second, I didn’t think the whole thing with Owen’s girlfriend in Italy added to the story; it really did sound fake, and she wasn’t developed enough to be anything more than a plot point complication. I’d have liked for her to be more developed or removed entirely.

Always Never Yours is a strong debut, and I’m looking forward to more from this writing team without a doubt. I’m always looking for more awesome fluffy contemporary authors, and I’m thrilled to add these two to my must-read list.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka”

  1. Victoria says:

    Great review! I picked this book up the other day and am hoping to read it in September.

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