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Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always Paperback – November 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (November 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738737224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738737225
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #516,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cassandra’s family life revolves around the Joyful News Church. But her parents don’t know that their son, Eric, is gay and that Cass is a nonbeliever. When Cass has a chance to work on the school newspaper with the popular girls, she takes the opportunity to start an anonymous advice column based on the tarot, another no-no in the family. The column gets out of hand, eventually leading one girl, Drew, to attempt suicide. Cass has ignored Drew’s friendship overtures throughout the story, which makes her feel doubly responsible for Drew’s breakdown. There’s a lot packed into this debut novel: bullying, first romances, gay issues, and of course religious questions. These themes are not always well integrated, but readers will see themselves in various aspects of Cass’ struggles, especially her guilt about the way bullying can lead to unintentional consequences. This is respectful of strict churches (though some of the members come across as stereotypes), but it makes the point that children don’t always believe the same way as their parents. Grades 8-10. --Ilene Cooper

About the Author

Elissa Janine Hoole bought her first deck of Tarot cards as a birthday gift to herself when she turned twenty, and even in the privacy of her own apartment, she felt like she should hide them. The three words she uses to describe herself are curious, caring, and contemplative. Suggestions from her husband and two sons include crazy and cantankerous. Elissa teaches middle school English and sometimes makes her students write poetry that celebrates and sings themselves. She also wrote the YA road trip novel, Kiss the Morning Star.


More About the Author

Elissa Janine Hoole has a longstanding love of road trips and beat writers, but it was a summer-long ramble out West that inspired this debut novel, when she and her husband set off across the country with a backpack full of Kerouac books. Now settled in her home in northern Minnesota, Elissa teaches middle school English and writes until midnight, sipping cold coffee and ignoring the laundry.

She still suffers from acute wanderlust from time to time, but road trips now involve a mini-van and a chorus of "Are we there yet?" from two small dharma bums-in-training.

Customer Reviews

I liked Cassandra but didn't really connect with her.
Kelli of I'd So Rather Be Reading
If you read this novel and enjoyed it but have not read Walker’s tale, you should.
Book 'Em Blog
Things spiral out of control, and a lot of bad things happen.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada on November 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Even though I've been reading more YA books in the past few years, most of those are solidly based in the speculative fiction corner of literature. Contemporary YA doesn't really get a look in that often, though perhaps that shouldn't be surprising for a blogger who mostly focuses on SFF, historical fiction and crime fiction. But the contemporary YA I have read, I've almost universally liked and when I first saw Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always, I was immediately drawn by the blurb. I loved the premise: what is it like to grow up with fundamentally religious parents, when you're an atheist yourself? It is a very specific question, but the atheism versus fundamentalism could be substituted with other elements that make you different to your family, whether it is sexuality, faith, or politics to name some examples, which allows people of all stripes to connect to the story. Unfortunately Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always tries to tackle some huge issues and takes a somewhat 'everything and the kitchen sink'-approach by, in addition to the basic conflict between Cass and her parents, also trying to say something about bullying and homophobia. And while Hoole definitely created a good story, sometimes all the different conflicts got a bit muddled and the narrative lost strength due to that.

In essence, this is a story about a teen discovering her own identity and becoming a person separate from her parents. However, by placing this universal human experience in a setting of religious fundamentalism and the stifling morals associated with it, Hoole gives it an interesting twist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Book Vacation on November 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this novel, and I actually found it much more interesting that the synopsis itself makes it out to be. Not only is it about bullying, a hot topic in the nation right now, but it also deals with over zealous religion (borderline cult), intolerance and homosexual relations, advice columns, and the philosophical question of right and wrong. Honestly, I think this novel is extremely well written and while I wasn't sure if I would really like it going in, I came out of it absolutely in love with Hoole's writing style and characterization.

The novel begins with Cassandra attempting to take a survey during which time she realizes she's completely boring. She has no great answers to any of the questions, not like her friends or even her sister, and so she struggles to make herself stand out. As the novel unfolds, each chapter is titled with one of the questions from the survey, launching into what Cassandra does in order to be different, and in my opinion, this technique really worked well.

Cassandra Randall has spent much of her life as part of an extreme religion/cult society within her small town, thanks to her overzealous parents. But, as her church and its members only make-up about half the town's population, and as Cassandra continues to witness the vast differences between her life and those of others outside the church, she decides it's time to put her foot down and rebel. After all, Cassandra doesn't tend to believe anything her church is spouting, at least, she hasn't for a while now, anyway. I once knew someone who had a family similar to Cassandra's, and it's a bit scary to think about.
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Format: Paperback
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes you just need to read a contemporary focusing especially on high school drama, which is honestly one of my favorite subjects. However in yet another fail of reading comprehension, I missed what this book was going to be about. I thought the main character Cass was assigned to write a poem for English and ,stifling under a restrictive religion, she wrote about her cult-like church, causing a scandal. She does manage to cause controversery but it is through a blog where she gives advice from her amateur tarot card readings. I was a bit more interested in the premise I thought I was getting but I did like all the issues this book touched upon.

First and foremost would be bullying. We see a lot of accusations of "bullying" in the blogosphere, many of them cheapening the meaning of the word. Disagreeing with someone and explaining your reasons why is not bullying. Writing hateful comments about someone in addition to making mocking comments in person is definitely bullying as is demonstrated in this book. As the blog explodes in popularity, so does the commenting become more frequent and more hostile leading to real world consequences. The book does a great job handling the (unintended) fallout from this experiment.

I also mentioned religion. I have a confessed weakness for books about cults and for some reason started thinking I would be getting that in this book. Though the family's religions is pretty intense (Sunday services plus Wednesday AND Friday meetings) and very conservative beliefs, I didn't feel like it merited cult status to my dismay. But the book does not promise any such thing so I don't know why I thought it might pan out like that.
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