"Many teens will find something to take away from this story. Hand to fans of Jenny Han or other romantic comedies." -Booklist
"A refreshing novel about friendship and romance that defies cliché, Never Always Sometimes will win readers over with its hilarious musings and universal truths." -Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not on Never Always Sometimes
"An utterly charming and thoughtful meditation on love, friendship and all the territories in between." -Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything on Never Always Sometimes
"Reminiscent of John Green's Paper Towns, Alsaid's debut is a gem." -School Library Journal on Let's Get Lost
"Debut author Alsaid creates enough adventure to make the stories feel breathless." -Publishers Weekly on Let's Get Lost
"There is a kernel of truth in every cliché, and Alsaid cracks the teen-lit trope of friends becoming lovers wide open, exposing a beautiful truth inside. He also perfectly captures the golden glow of senioritis, a period when teens are bored and excited and wistful and nostalgic all at once. Everything is possible in this handful of weeks, including making up for squandered time." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review on Never Always Sometimes
"An exceptional tale of grief, ambition, love, and maturity." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review on North of Happy
After high school graduation and a breakup with her boyfriend, New Yorker Lu develops writer’s block, leaving her at risk of losing her job as a weekly love and dating columnist for a big online teen magazine, and the journalism scholarship to NYU that goes with it. Instead of taking her best friend’s advice to write about herself, she distracts herself by observing other people’s relationships. She overhears Cal and Iris, also recent graduates, planning to break up in anticipation of the separate paths they’ll take come fall—but the teens later decide to stay together for the summer. After hearing the news of their reunion and becoming better acquainted with Iris, Lu becomes obsessed with learning the secret of their seemingly perfect relationship. Having decided their story would be the perfect subject for an article, she is all too happy to accept their invitations to accompany them on their escapades, but Lu’s writing block remains, and things get complicated when she forms a crush on Cal. While the novel offers a strong New York City vibe and a relatable situation, Lu’s procrastination and one-note focus on perfect love eventually grows tedious. Snappy dialogue provides relief, but the characters exhibit less substance and fewer dimensions than those found in Alsaid’s North of Happy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Peter Knapp, Park Literary & Media. (Apr.)
Gr 9 Up–Lu's boyfriend dumped her at the beginning of the summer anticipating that their relationship would not go the distance as they travel to separate colleges. This horrible turn of events affects Lu's work as well as her spirit. As a writer for a stylish online magazine, Lu is expected to write about love from a teen's perspective. Now she has writer's block, and her college scholarship is on the line. Lu's best friend, Pete, tries to persuade her to write about her breakup, but Lu is convinced that her column needs a new angle. After eavesdropping on another young couple, Iris and Cal, Lu becomes obsessed with their story. Similar to her own, Iris and Cal decide to part ways before going their separate ways for college. However, unlike Lu's predicament, this couple decides to postpone their breakup and spend one last summer together. Lu is determined to figure out why they are staying together while her own relationship fell apart. Alsaid accurately captures the teen angst and drama. The protagonist is struggling to find that balance among her job, friends, family, and love life. When one part of Lu's world goes awry, it affects all other aspects of her life. Alsaid's authentic language and relatable situations will have teens experiencing Lu's frustrations right along with her. The fast pacing will appeal to reluctant readers. VERDICT Recommended for general purchase, especially where the author's previous books are popular.—Jeni Tahaney, Summit High School, Manfield, TX
Lu Charles, the love and dating columnist for the popular online teen magazine Misnomer, struggles to write her next piece.
And losing her writing gig would mean losing her scholarship to attend New York University in the fall. But since being dumped three weeks earlier, Lu has been suffering from a severe case of writer's block. So, like every clichéd aspiring writer, Lu turns to eavesdropping on people's conversations for inspiration. Her efforts lead her to the charming, hipster glasses-wearing Cal and his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, Iris, who is practically perfect in Lu's eyes. Fascinated by the couple's joint decision to break up before heading off to college, Lu becomes the ultimate third-wheel-by-choice, planning to follow them around and document their final moments together for her column. But as she grows closer to Cal and Iris, she continually fails to meet her editor's deadlines, wastes time she could be spending with her best friend, Pete, before summer ends, and avoids confronting the pain she clearly still harbors from her recent breakup. There is a valuable and John Green-esque lesson on love in here, but readers are forced to wade through Lu's denial and self-centeredness until she understands it herself. Lu, though fed Italian food daily by her mother, is Filipina, as is her ex-boyfriend, Leo. Iris is Latinx, and other major characters are white.
The just-right ending despite the monotonous plot makes this one skimworthy at best. (Fiction. 14-18)