Justin A. Reynolds has always wanted to be a writer. Opposite of Always, his debut novel, was an Indies Introduce selection, a School Library Journal Best Book, has been translated in seventeen languages, and is being developed for film with Paramount Players. He hangs out in northeast Ohio with his family and likes it, and is probably somewhere, right now, dancing terribly. His second novel Early Departures will publish September 2020. You can find him at justinareynolds.com
Justin A. Reynolds, author of Opposite of Always, delivers another smart, funny, and powerful stand-alone YA contemporary novel, with a speculative twist in which Jamal’s best friend is brought back to life after a freak accident . . . but they only have a short time together before he will die again.
Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die . . . again.
He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident.
But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies . . . forever.
Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?
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Thoughts and Themes: A book has made me tear up, and shed a tear or two but never has a book made me ugly cry. The unfortunate part of feelings happening with me is that I have a hard time expressing them so the ugly crying was more like an anxiety attack over too many feelings at once. Books that can do this, well they automatically go to my recommend to the world pile because I want to share those feelings with others.
I really liked that this book shows that boys and in particular Black boys are allowed to have feelings and that those feelings are a part of living. I really liked the way that this message was sent across throughout this whole book. I think this allowance of feelings for the characters was what ultimately allowed me to cry over the book and it also reminded me to go tell the people that I love that I love them.
This book made me want to throw the book across the room so many times and tear my heart out so that I could stop feeling for just a minute. I can’t imagine what these feelings would have been like had I known what the death of someone close to me felt like. Death is one of those things that I just don’t process well so when books force me to process the idea of death, I just can’t deal with it.
Something else I enjoyed about this book was the addition of the science aspects that were at the start of the book through the reanimation process. I think it was a great way of explaining things and keeping the humanity out of those characters. I did like the later portion of this thought where Quincy gets to meet with the people involved in this operation and you can see more about this operation and the people behind it.
Characters: This book has a great cast of characters whom I love regardless of how much time we get with each of them. I really enjoy the characters relationships with each other and seeing how those relationships are developing with time. I thought that their interactions were great and liked seeing how authentic their relationships with each other were.
Writing Style: In this book you get the story through the perspective of Jamal with one piece that is done through Quincy which I thought was great to see. I really liked how short the chapters were and how they easily transitioned into the next one. I thought that the whole book was beautifully written and liked the back and forth of the story. I thought it was great to see parts of Jamal’s life prior to the death of his parents and I liked seeing his feelings poured out on every page.
Thank you to Booksparks for providing the book so that I could be a part of the #fall2020stacks challenge.