The story of Opposite of Always truly begins at a college party where Jack King is trying to figure out how to finally make a move on his best friend Jillian. Before he gets the nerve, he meets college freshman Kate. He feels an immediate connection to her. She’s funny, quirky, and acts just as awkward as him. She also has exactly zero rhythm even though she is black. Suddenly, it is like Jillian who? Jack and Kate spend as much time together as they can and their bond is becoming more and more intense. Then one night Kate doesn’t show up for an agreed upon occasion and Jack finds out that she is in the hospital. He goes to her and while she tries to push him away, he refuses to leave her side. He is ready to support her against anything but before he has the chance, she dies. And before Jack can fully grieve for her, he finds himself back in time reliving the exact moment he met Kate.
Jack doesn’t understand what going on but he honestly doesn’t care. He has Kate back and a second chance with her. He becomes determined to use the knowledge he has to make sure he doesn’t loose her again. He quickly learns that altering the flow of life has consequences- not just for Kate but for all the people most important to him. Thus begins a fantastic story of love, friendship, growing up, and filled with a group of memorable characters.
There are four main characters who are continuously affected by Jack’s actions and choices. These are Jack, Kate, Jillian and Jillian’s boyfriend/Jack’s other best friend Franny. Jack’s parents also play a crucial role in this story. I loved the relationship Jack had with his parents. They are not over protective of him but, are not afraid to call him out either. The same goes for his friends. As Jack is trying to figure out how to save Kate, he continuously puts his friends and family in unexpected situations. And the more he fails, the more he winds up giving the other characters to deal with. It is both hilarious and heart wrenching.
I really enjoyed the time travel aspect of this book. You do have to have a bit of suspended disbelief but, it does flow together really well. Time travel is complicated enough. The teenage years are complicated enough. And when you mix these things together things can get very complicated. As I mentioned there are people who in Jack’s life who are unafraid to call him out. This is critical to the storyline and the choices he makes. Yes Jack continues failing but each failure is different. Yes, he gets frustrated and too involved but through all of this he is vulnerable and real. All of these characters are vulnerable and real. As their friendships and relationships are challenged in different ways, you can not help but root for them to find their way.
Opposite of Always features a group of diverse characters that are going through human experiences and feel very human through all it. They take you on a journey that makes you think and has you pondering if you were in Jack’s shoes what decisions would you make. You may not agree with the choices he makes but you learn to understand the human emotion behind it. Or at least I did and that was made everything enjoyable. If you enjoy young adult romantic comedies with a dash of time travel, you may very well enjoy this one too.
Rating: 4 Stars