I Never by Laura Hopper

I Never

Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex.Inspired by Judy Blume’s classic...

Title:I Never
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

I Never Reviews

  • Stacee

    I loved the idea of this story and even though I haven’t ever read the Judy Blume book it’s being compared to, I was intrigued...sadly I was bored right from the start.

    Janey and Luke are both so boring. There are a few details given about them, but both of them felt quite flat. Janey’s inner monologue sounded much younger than 17 and I never really settled into it.

    Plot wise, I don’t even know what to say. There’s a bit more drama than I was expecting as Janey seems to overreact a lot. I did li

    I loved the idea of this story and even though I haven’t ever read the Judy Blume book it’s being compared to, I was intrigued...sadly I was bored right from the start.

    Janey and Luke are both so boring. There are a few details given about them, but both of them felt quite flat. Janey’s inner monologue sounded much younger than 17 and I never really settled into it.

    Plot wise, I don’t even know what to say. There’s a bit more drama than I was expecting as Janey seems to overreact a lot. I did like the sex positivity through out, but fair warning: the sex scenes were more graphic than I was expecting for a YA book. I’m not condemning in any way, but I’m sure it could come as a surprise to some readers.

    Overall, it was a quick read and I think that might be the nicest thing I can say about it.

    **Huge thanks to HMH Books for providing the arc free of charge**

  • Grace {Rebel Mommy Book Blog}

    3.5

  • Mary

    Thoughts:

    I'm a big fan of what I feel are ~realistic~ portrayals of teenage experiences (think Those Girls) and sex positive books in YA. There's still a need for more positive, un romanticized narratives, but I Never was a good start. This novel is pitched as being the "new" Judy Blume's Forever. I've never read Forever (this actually made me want to for the comparison) but there are certain high hopes that come along with comparing ones book to a cult classic. When I first came across I Never

    Thoughts:

    I'm a big fan of what I feel are ~realistic~ portrayals of teenage experiences (think Those Girls) and sex positive books in YA. There's still a need for more positive, un romanticized narratives, but I Never was a good start. This novel is pitched as being the "new" Judy Blume's Forever. I've never read Forever (this actually made me want to for the comparison) but there are certain high hopes that come along with comparing ones book to a cult classic. When I first came across I Never was very quickly intrigued by the premise, not only because of it's explicit discussion of sex, but also because it was about the first time. Before I get into the nitty gritty I should preface that this review might get a little TMI, I mean we are discussing sex here so please don't read beyond your comfort level.

    I never isn't a particularly short/long book, but I absolutely blazed through it in a day. My ferocity reminds me of the way that I tend to consume Taylor Jenkins Reid books–I fall fast and hard. The interesting premise of I Never aside, I very quickly found Janey to be a very boring protagonist. She seemed ~semi~ well developed...I think what she lacked the most was an emotional depth? I struggle with saying this because Janey does have emotional reactions in appropriate situations, but I think that they all felt a little contrived. BUT while I found the averageness of Janey to be a negative aspect of the book, this could potentially make her a more universally relatable character. Janey remains insecure throughout the novel, and I was disappointed with this lack of personal development because if Janey had changed due to her first boyfriend it would have been her "changing for a guy", it would have been her changing due to new experiences. The lack of this development in the novel caused Janey as a protagonist to be dissatisfying. However, boring Janey aside, her life is incredibly grounded in other details. The shifting relationship between her parents and the unexpected shift in home life continues to be a focal point throughout the novel, balancing out the romance. This is also another shoutout for family in YA, and although Janey doesn't have any siblings, her relationships with her parents amidst the tumultuous change in dynamic rings true for many people's experiences.

    Janey's story is not just grounded in her family, but also in her relationships. Janey's friends are very present during the novel, and Hopper makes a point to emphasize that friendships are not always hunky-dory. Important friendship lessons aside, I found that all three of Janey's closest friends could have been more developed. Their interactions, while sweet, always felt like surface interactions. I wish we could have seen Janey's friends as more realistic people, because I think that they would have complimented Hopper's characterization of Janey. I was proud to see the inclusion of a boy-girl friendship, but disappointed that it didn't really have a purpose other than for her friend to disapprove of Janey's new boyfriend (Luke). I also appreciated the respect the girl friends had for their varying levels of sexuality, especially because the social construct of a "virginity" was generally left out of the novel. But again, I felt like the characters were more tools for a message and not people.

    And now, the romance. I didn't LOVE that Luke was "popular" (and thus viewed as unattainable" because it romanticized their relationship in a cheesy way. Again, I felt like the relationship was contrived. However, social status aside, the beginning of their relationship was KILLER. I loved how Hopper conveyed the nerves and distractions and general feelings of excitement that come along with first dates. I loved it! The majority of the relationship was lovely, they were communicative and consensual. However, as sex positive as I Never was, I thought that Janey's parent's were a ~little~ unrealistic in the way that they handled it, but that's just me. Towards the end of the novel Janey began to be frustrating. Why didn't she and Luke discuss the whole "I'm a senior going to college" thing sooner. It just felt unrealistic that suddenly the reality of the situation just dawned on them. I'm honestly surprised she didn't dwell on it more.

    There were times when I Never was incredibly brave. And then there were times in which I felt like it could have been bolder. Janey has literally never orgasmed before her first relationship, and this disappointed me. In a novel chock full of other sexual positivity, why couldn't we have had a positive portrayal of female masturbation? I take issue with this. Also, while I Never's depiction of couples fighting in healthy/unhealthy ways (and distinguishing between the two) was awesome (!!!) I was frustrated that Hopper left out the hardest type of conversation...the "I love you but have to let you go conversation", because from the moment Janey and Luke go on their first date the reader is aware that this is where their relationship is headed. Deep down Janey and Luke really do care for each other, but the lack of this conversation detracts from the book. It's inclusion would not only have wrapped up several unanswered questions for the audience, but also would have been a very healthy way to reassure readers who are going through similar experiences. Lastly, I Never was very, very heterosexual, and this was disappointing. For novel that made so much of an effort to show sex positivity (which is still important), I wished that this had been expanded to include people across the spectrum in some way.

    Final Thoughts:

    As critical as I have been of I Never and its character development, there are so many things that this novel does well. Hopper has crafted relatable characters, characters going through the types of teenage experiences that make your heart ache. In this day and age sex positivity in teenage literature is imperative and important. I Never is not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction. This novel can open the doors for lots of inclusive novels to come and in the mean time it can remain relatable for the average American teenager.

  • Holly

    This book is being touted as the new "Forever" by Judy Blume. It is the story of first love (leading to first sex). The writing is not very captivating and the story really drags. The characters are hard to even like. The long expository passages just drag. I did think that the novel initially touched on the problems with teen sex and getting too serious too fast, but the problems were resolved very quickly and not very realistically.

  • Stephanie

    A friend called this "[Judy Blume's] FOREVER for today," and while it is much less serious and brooding than I remember FOREVER to be, it is an emotional, clear, and fun look at first love, the first serious boyfriend, and the first time.

  • Stacy Fetters

    Seeing this cover at Ala, I knew that I had to read this. Then I read the synopsis and I was positive that this would be my first read after coming home from Chicago. Thanks, Ala Chicago!!!

    We all remember the weird awkwardness of our fi

    Seeing this cover at Ala, I knew that I had to read this. Then I read the synopsis and I was positive that this would be my first read after coming home from Chicago. Thanks, Ala Chicago!!!

    We all remember the weird awkwardness of our first time. We thought we were in love and that it would be the greatest moment of our lives. How wrong we were!

    As I started to read this (like an idiot) I started to read some reviews. People have a lot of not so nice things to say about this book. A lot of comparisons to Judy Blume and her novels. This is where I lucked out. I have never read anything by her, so I believe that's why I enjoyed this so much. We watched someone grow from an insecure girl who started dating someone who people were envious of to a lady who was confident and secure in her life and relationship.

    Review to come

  • Thamy

    This book goes from the meet cute to the problems more common in a teenager's relationship in a very comprehensive and sometimes a little too graphic manner.

    Janey had never spoken to Luke even though they are in the same track team at school. After an embarrassing incident going back from her last vacations with her now about-to-divorce parents, he's taken a sudden interest in her. And she can't take her eyes off him.

    Why is the rating so low for this? I avoid reading what people say but always t

    This book goes from the meet cute to the problems more common in a teenager's relationship in a very comprehensive and sometimes a little too graphic manner.

    Janey had never spoken to Luke even though they are in the same track team at school. After an embarrassing incident going back from her last vacations with her now about-to-divorce parents, he's taken a sudden interest in her. And she can't take her eyes off him.

    Why is the rating so low for this? I avoid reading what people say but always think it's weird when the average rating is below my own. I'd even considered saying this was a 3.5 because it felt a little above my usual 3-star books. As it happens, I had gotten this book so long ago (hides in shame) that I'd forgotten the proposal of being like a new Forever by Judy Blume. From what I concluded as I read the many 1-star reviews—they are usually like unicorns when it's still before publication dates!—, I think people got it exactly for that reason though, and so they were disappointed.

    I won't say I was in love either. At the same time, it was impossible not to feel at awe with what the author accomplished in a normal-length without feeling rushed (most of the time, at least—we'll get there). I'm sure if I were a teenager I would have loved reading a book that discusses first times, falling in love, dealing with changes in the way I Never did. However, I do think the make out scenes got a little bit out of hand, almost into New Adult grounds. This was one thing that bothered me, sometimes it felt as if I were reading erotica, which will probably raise concern of parents and defeat purpose. I don't think she needed to go so far, it's not like there aren't enough NA's around if an older teenager feels like it, so this is a pity.

    As I mentioned before, she managed to go from A to Z of relationships and the rhythm in the book didn't feel rushed at all. Nonetheless, I don't think it was so believable how fast things progressed for Janey, to a point even her parents seemed okay with her active sexual life, even lending her a whole apartment for that? Instead of a rule, I'd call her an exception among teenagers. Am I too outdated on how the mind of an inexperienced teen works? And maybe I was too inside Janey's point of view but Luke's feelings never convinced me as real. That speed got me frowning but, as I said, the book itself had good rhythm.

    I like how the portrayal of her friends, although Brent sometimes made it awkward. I'm not so sure what his role was supposed to be and sometimes I even forgot he existed. Aside from that, books reminding us that teenagers can have good friends as a rule always earn extra points with me. It wasn't all heavenly but no one was faking anything, either. Also, each in the trio was a break from the stereotype you'd expect. One isn't really the easy lay, the boy isn't the one forever in love with the main girl and the other isn't a prude. Each have their own personality in addition to what they may look like. Nice job.

    My decision not to give a 3.5 was actually set in stone due to the end. This is not about being happy or sad. To be honest, it was probably the most verisimilar. But I don't think it represented a closure to this story and it basically made me swear very bad words. It was like Janey had become even more passive than she was in the beginning, like she had unlearned to control her own fate. That's not the lesson I wanted my teenager self to learn. And right because I was so frustrated, the whole magic dissolved and I questioned much of the evolution I thought Janey had had.

    So yes, Hopper didn't succeed in many parts. But it wasn't a bad book. It was quick and easy to read.Unfortunately, the ending was aggravating and the couple didn't do it for me. So it's your good old 3 stars. But I do recommend it to teenagers, this is the kind of book I loved reading back then.

    Honest review based on an ARC provided by Edelweiss. Many thanks to the publisher for this opportunity.

  • Holly

    I Never is the story of what really happens in a High School relationship. Janey King thought she had it all until she learns of her parents divorcing while on vacation in Mexico. When they head back home to a new reality, she runs into Luke Hallstrom who has the power to change her life. With Janey trying to manage what has become of her home life, friends, school and track, Luke becomes the one person she wants to go that extra step with before he leaves for college. As Janey soon realizes tha

    I Never is the story of what really happens in a High School relationship. Janey King thought she had it all until she learns of her parents divorcing while on vacation in Mexico. When they head back home to a new reality, she runs into Luke Hallstrom who has the power to change her life. With Janey trying to manage what has become of her home life, friends, school and track, Luke becomes the one person she wants to go that extra step with before he leaves for college. As Janey soon realizes that growing up isn't easy and everything must come crashing down before she can finally see what everyone means to her in her life in a bittersweet ending to this story!

    This book will make you want to read it in one sitting just to see what happens next for Janey and Luke. The only thing that bothered me about this book was how detailed the sex scenes were between Janey and Luke, it could have been toned down a bit without losing what this story is telling. I do have to agree that this book definitely deserves to be in High School's for the message that it tells and it does comes close to Judy Blume's Forever! If you are looking for a read that oh so reminds you of what it's like to be a teenager with real life problems, you really need to read this book and to maybe share this read with your own teenager!

    Thank You to Laura Hopper for this story that reminds me of what it was like being a teenager!

    I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from RockStar Book Tours!

  • Sam Kozbial

    This book took me back 30 years to when I was experiencing a lot of those firsts that Janey embarked on in

    . I am such a sap and an HEA girl, that I had to shed a tear or two at the end, that part was hard for me, but I really thought Hopper did a great job navigating all these new, sometimes good, sometimes bad, milestones in Janey's life.

    This is a book about the things Janey had never experienced before, and it was quite a wistful walk down memory lane for me. It is blurbed as being th

    This book took me back 30 years to when I was experiencing a lot of those firsts that Janey embarked on in

    . I am such a sap and an HEA girl, that I had to shed a tear or two at the end, that part was hard for me, but I really thought Hopper did a great job navigating all these new, sometimes good, sometimes bad, milestones in Janey's life.

    This is a book about the things Janey had never experienced before, and it was quite a wistful walk down memory lane for me. It is blurbed as being the modern day Forever, which I can agree with, as I read that book back when I was 15. It opened my eyes to a lot of new things I was feeling and thinking about, and I found some solace in knowing that I was not the only one.

    •Pro: This book is very sex-positive. There were frank discussions about sex between Janey and her girlfriends, Janey and her mom, Janey and Luke. I really appreciated all the different angles from which Hopper approached the subject.

    •Pro: Janey was not only experiencing first love, she was encountering a lot of other firsts: the first time seeing her parents as people, seeing them as flawed; she was starting to see that the world is not all black and white, but rather, there is a lot of grey, and this is a really pivotal time in a teen's life.

    •Pro: Hopper showed how the dynamic changes in one's other relationships, when they begin a romantic relationship. Janey's friendships changed, as did the way she related to her parents. She had to adjust. There were bumps, but she evaluated and made the adjustments necessary to make it all work.

    •Con: The ending was tough for me. I am an HEA girl, and although the ending was pre-determined from a very early point in the story, and is true to its inspiration, I still found it a little sad.

    •Pro: This was a story about Janey exploring her autonomy. That time in a teen's life, where they pull away a little from their parents, and begin to keep some things to themselves, while they make some of their own decisions. It was very realistic and relatable.

    •Pro: I liked Luke and Janey together. I thought he pushed her in a lot of good ways. He was patient and caring, and smooth-boy said all the right things.

    •Pro: I did think Janey grew some over the course of the story. She had quite a few ideological shifts with respect to her parents and sex. She was not totally over her insecurities, but she knew she wanted to work towards that. She knew she wanted to be able to feel wanted, beautiful, and desirable even if she was not attached to a man telling her that. I felt like she was moving in the right direction.

    •Pro: This book is really honest and realistic. I worked in a high school for 12 years, so if you think this is not the stuff going on in some teens' lives, you are mistaken.

    Overall: A bittersweet and honest story of firsts, which left me a little teary-eyed and wistful.

    *I would like to thank the publisher for the early review copy.

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  • Michael

    To close out her holiday vacation, Janey King's world is rocked by two events. The first is her parents' announcing their separation. The second is being seen rocking out to her music on the plane-ride home by fellow track team member and all-around popular guy Luke Hallstrom.

    Janey soon finds the spring semester of her junior year is in upheaval. Trying to comes to terms with her parents' separation and Luke's romantic interest, Janey finds that her previous priorities of grades, track and fami

    To close out her holiday vacation, Janey King's world is rocked by two events. The first is her parents' announcing their separation. The second is being seen rocking out to her music on the plane-ride home by fellow track team member and all-around popular guy Luke Hallstrom.

    Janey soon finds the spring semester of her junior year is in upheaval. Trying to comes to terms with her parents' separation and Luke's romantic interest, Janey finds that her previous priorities of grades, track and family are taking a backseat to her budding romance with Luke.

    Laura Hopper captures the initial excitement, anxiety and breathless anticipation of young love in her debut novel

    . And while the novel markets itself as examining Janey's decisions about how far things should progress in her relationship with Luke, there's actually a bit more to the story than that. Janey's journey feels like it's taken from a John Hughes film.

    For the most part, the story feels authentic and Janey's journey is well-told. Whether it's reconciling her feelings about her parents' divorce, trying to figure out how much to tell her friends or the comfort level she feels with Luke, Jane's voice is an authentic and engaging one. The reactions of her friends works well, though some are more supportive than others about her new relationship with Luke.

    The romantic arc that Janey follows hits pretty much all of the standard highs and lows of a teenage romance. There's angst, there are butterflies and there's humor along the way. I will admit I found some of the book stretching the realm of plausibility (her father allowing her access to his new apartment seemingly as a place for her and Luke to make love seems a bit of stretch).

    Marketed to young adults,

    doesn't shy away from frank discussion of sexuality nor does it pull any punches when it comes to love scenes. The novel isn't as detailed as many romance novels, but it still includes multiple scenes of Janey and Luke enjoying and exploring their romance.

    All in all,

    is an authentic, honest story of teenage romance and the decisions and pressures that can go along with it.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

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