What happens when you have two strong willed women who are more alike than either of them wants to admit? This is a question author Joshilyn Jackson used as the basis of the current book of our book club. Book selections have been awesome lately, as I am giving a rating of 5 out of 5 for the second time in a row! Are you curious why? Dive into my latest book review of Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson.
This is my first book to read by New York Times Best Selling Author, Joshilyn Jackson. Have you read any of her books? Interestingly enough, this book is similar to my last review, The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark in that there are 2 main characters. In the current novel, Amy would be considered the protagonist and Roux the antagonist….but what happens when the lines between good and bad cross? Can one person be both a villain and a hero in the same story? Hmmmm……
Meet the Characters ~
- Amy Whey – Wife of Davis, mother/stepmother and book club member
- Angelica Roux – (called Roux) New to the Waverly Place neighborhood and it’s book club
- Davis Whey – Amy’s husband
- Madison – Amy’s stepdaughter
- Oliver – Amy’s son
- Luca – Roux’s son
- Charlotte Baxter – (Char) – Amy’s best friend and leader of book club
- Phillip Baxter – Char’s husband
- Ruby – Char’s daughter
- Esther – Char’s daughter
- Tig Simms – Amy’s high school friend
- Lolly & Paul Shipley – Amy babysat for them in High School
- Mr’s Shipley – mom of Lolly and Paul
- Faith Wheeler – Ezra’s mom
Waverly Place & Book Club Members ~
- Tate Bonasco
- Lisa Fenton
- Panda Grier (husband Francis)
- Sheridan Blake
- Tess Roberts
- Liddy Sleigh
- Sheila Brown
- Lavonda Gaffney
- Chloe Fischer
- Allie Whitaker
- Jenny Tugby
Other Characters ~
- Toby – Tig’s ex-stepdad
- Mr. Pratt – Waverly Place neighbor
- Jesse Cannon – neighbor
- Pete – Junkyard owner
- Captain Jay – owner of Miss Behavin’ boat
- Winslow – Captain Jay’s son
- Morris – Detective
- Shannon – Maddy Whey’s friend
- Laura – Davis Whey’s first wife
- Connor Smith – Amy Whey’s brother
- Shelly Gast, Cliff Mayes, Toya, Buddy, Carl, Crystal & Peg – high school friends
- James Lee – Amy Whey’s first husband
- Boyce Shelton – Lawyer
Characters That Have Different Names Listed Above…..
- Ange Renault
- Ezra Wheeler
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The Plot ~
There are several different options in playing the game Never Have I Ever. Initially, it was created to be an ice breaker type of game. However, it has evolved over time and is many times now played as a “drinking” game. Roux initiated the game the first night that she came to the neighborhood book club. All the women were excited to play this fun new game….more because they were mesmerized by Roux than anything.
Roux, however, had alterior motives. By the end of the night, it was clear that she knew more about Amy’s hidden past than Amy was comfortable with.
“It Was Diving That Saved Me” ~
Joshilyn does a good job of taking us from past to present as we slowly learn about Amy’s dark secret….or is that secrets? Now a stepmother of a young teenage girl and mother of a baby boy, Amy escapes into the ocean as often as she can to try to leave her secrets deep within the confines of the ocean. She loves her life as it is but continually worries that if her past gets revealed that she will lose everything she loves.
“Paying The Universe” ~
Roux moves into the rental home in the Waverly Place neighborhood and quickly grabs the attention of all of the women. She is beautiful and confident….but is that confidence real? One thing we do learn is that she feels she is the one that is responsible for helping others to pay the universe….hmmmm!
Much to each lady’s chagrin, neither one is going to give up that easily. What starts out as a cleverly planned blackmail soon takes many twists and turns leaving each one believing they have won…until they haven’t. With each new discovery, we the readers get more shocked with the secrets that keep emerging. This leaves us at times wondering which lady is the hero and which is the villain.
Let’s Not Forget About The Book Club Ladies ~
Why are these women listed out in such detail in the beginning of the book? Well….many of them become pawns in a much bigger game than the one they started out in that night at book club. What they thought was an innocent game of “Never Have I Ever,” soon becomes the end of life as they know it for some of them.
Never Have I Ever – A Book Review ~
I have hinted at some of the details in this story, but believe me when I say, “You have to read this one!” It was an enjoyable ride to the end and the characters are filled with lots of personality! This book is a great choice for book clubs as it opens up a lot of topics for discussion. Below are some questions to get you going….
Discussion Questions ~
- Why is diving a comfort to Amy?
- Do you have anything that offers you peace in the same way as the ocean does for Amy?
- How did your theories of Roux changes as you read the book?
- Who do you think was driving?
- How does Amy’s motherhood influence her moral choices?
- Roux got to immediately invade Amy’s territory under the guise of attending book club. Do you feel you would have taken the same steps Amy did to invade Roux’s territory?
- While Amy & Roux would like to consider themselves as very different women, do you feel they are more alike or more different than each other?
- What do you think Roux was going to say when she asked, “You know what Amy?”
- Faith asked Amy, “How did you know?” Did you figure out what Amy knew before you actually read it in the book?
- Who was the person that was sending selfies to Luca? What are your thoughts about this?
- Who is the worst, Roux or Luca’s dad, for what they each did to Luca?
- Were you surprised that Amy killed Roux with all of the guilt she already carried from the past?
- What do you think Luca said to Maddy out on the swing at the end of the book?
- What did Luca mean when he stated, “I need a pork chop?”
- Why do you think Luca went along with Roux’s story?
- Why do you think Luca never told Amy what was going on when he started to feel so loved by her?
- Did you ever think Tig was in cahoots with Roux?
- Did you feel sorry for Roux at any point in the book?
- Were you surprised to find out who Char was?
- If you were in Char’s shoes and found out the truth, what do you think you would do?
The Almost Sisters is another book by Joshilyn Jackson that looks intriguing. I believe this will be my next read by her. What books of hers have you read? I would love to discuss them with you in the comments below!
Happy Reading Friends ~
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