This is another book I read back in 2020, but this one has stuck with me a little bit more than the last. Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds gave me time-travelling Groundhog Day vibes (but with YA stakes) that I’ve enjoyed before—and it didn’t get past me that the characters’ names were Jack and Kate, like in Titanic. Though obviously held in a world with magical realism, it does put things like life and death and cause and effect into the forefront, and I was happily along for the ride.
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.
But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.
Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.
Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.
The premise of this book is a lot like Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, which I enjoyed, but it definitely has a different feel. I love that in a time of #ownvoice we finally get a YA romantic comedy with a Black male protagonist written by a Black male and with the majority (if not all) of the characters being minorities. It was refreshing.
I liked the dynamic between the group of friends and their families. Jack’s parents were amazing. I wish Jillian was a little less “perfect” but it didn’t bother me too much. And I think I missed why we called Franny’s dad The Coupon, because it seemed really random to me. The epilogue at the end was also fabulous. It added another dimension to the book that I wasn’t expecting.
I will definitely keep an eye out to read something else by Justin A. Reynolds if I get the chance.
“The things is, you don’t forfeit your whole world to prove your feelings to someone. You bring your worlds together. You get more world, not less.” —Justin A. Reynolds, Opposite of Always
Thank you to Justin Groep on Unsplash for the featured photo.