Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

When I’m reading a book with the intention to review it, I usually make notes as I’m going along. Full disclosure: I have no notes for this book. In truth, I simply begrudged losing any precious reading time to scribbling notes; it was that bloody good! Whilst life meant that I had to read this over the course of a few days, I was completely and utterly immersed and, quite frankly, I could have quite easily sat and read in one sitting.

I was captivated by the first person narration from Amy Whey; a wife, Mum, stepmother and scuba diving instructor/enthusiast. Her perfect suburban life is rattled by the arrival of Roux, a new arrival in the neighbourhood who gatecrashes the monthly book club and through her version of Never Have I Ever, begins a new and dangerously twisty game threatening to reveal Amy’s darkest secrets.

The highlight of this book for me was the interactions between the two women. Both are smart, strong and have been touched by more than a little darkness throughout the course of their lives. It is a darkness which manifests itself differently within each woman, and yet there are core similarities which lead to the recognition of themselves in the other, it is this grudging respect and mutual understanding which blurs the edges of the narrative and adds depth to the plot.

The writing style of the author entranced me, I loved the way in which she sees this world she has created, and I found her descriptions and characterisations to be nothing short of incredible. I had such a clear picture of who Amy was, and in turn who Roux was through Amy’s eyes. The world built up around them and I fell head first into it. The complexity of these two female characters was so compelling and I would love to see this novel brought to life as a mini-series, or similar as it is so incredibly current.

I don’t want to reduce the plot of the novel to a series of ‘twists’ as it is so much more than that – yes, there are twists, but they are a side-effect of the genre, in reality it is the sheer power emanated by these two imperfect women squaring up against each another that is the force behind this novel.

An incredible novel from an author I am keen to read much more of, Never Have I Ever completely blew me away – one of my top reads of the year.

Synopsis

It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away – if Amy plays by her rules.

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

About the Author

Joshilyn Jackson lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband and their two children. She serves on the board of and volunteers with Reforming Arts, teaching creative writing inside Lee Arrendale State Prison, Georgia’s maximum security facility for women. Through their education-in-prison and re-entry programs, Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build liveable lives. She’s also an award winning audiobook narrator, performing most of her own work as well as novels by Lydia Netzer and Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

*I received a review copy from the publisher, Bloomsbury. The decision to read was my own and this review forms my honest opinion

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