Book Reviews

Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

From the synopsis of Opposite of Always I was pretty sure I was going to love it. And, spoiler, I was right. Opposite of Always tore my heart out. Yes it’s a story of time travel, but it’s also a story about friendship, love, and second chances.


Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . .

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. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because 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. Beautiful, radiant Kate. 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—and let go—to save the people he loves.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

You know you love a book when just after finishing, you both want to dive back in AND write your review. Opposite of Always is an emotional and tender glimpse at Jack’s quest for love, friendship, and family. Reynolds writes this delicious tension between not knowing how Jack’s six months will turn out – will he have his happy ending and what does that mean for Jack? Because as Jack keeps going back to that same moment, he has to choose what exactly his happy ending would be.


Opposite of Always is tender, emotional, and profound. Jack’s character immediately hooks you with his awkwardness, his cleverness, and his gentle heart. Because at the end of the day, Jack, the king of almosts, just wants to get this right. But as he goes back again and again, he realizes what would be ‘right’ is it getting the girl, saving your friend, not disappointing your parents? And we’re right there with him, seeing the effects of his choices, his mistakes, his outlandish schemes, and his quests for forgiveness.

But Opposite of Always wouldn’t be the same without the brilliant cast of side characters. Whether it be Jillian, the girl who has to shoulder the responsibility of her mother, Franny and his relationship with his dad who just got out of prison, or his a-dorkable parents. And, what’s more, throughout all of Jack’s six months, we witness the different choices and reactions of these characters. Let’s also talk about all this diversity, not only on the cover, but also in the story!


At the heart of Opposite of Always is a story about forgiveness, making mistakes, and thinking we’re too late. In a book about time travel, everything is a matter of time. Of timing not working out, of moments missed, and being too late. Opposite of Always is simultaneously a story about wanting to hold onto what we have, but also realizing the impermanence of the moment. It also makes you wonder what would you do if you could go back. Because what Jack realizes that it isn’t about the big moments, those monumental decisions, it’s about the little moments that pile up that accumulate when you aren’t looking.


Opposite of Always is heart breaking. You will laugh and cry all at the same time. It isn’t a simple story. It’s a story that gets across all the complexity of life, while serving up some time travel, complex family situations, and the feelings of being unworthy. If you like the idea of having a do-over, of exploring what happiness means to us, and moving characters, then check out Opposite of Always on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


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