Never Have I Ever
by Joshilyn Jackson
Publication Date : July 30, 2019
Pages : 352
Synopsis From Publisher:
In this game, even winning can be deadly...
Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.
Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.
When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.
To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.
A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.
Are you the same person you were twenty years ago? My answer to this question is “ good grief I hope not”. Amy Whey, the lead character of Joshilyn Jackson’s newest release Never Have I Ever, would answer “absolutely not”. Amy’s attempts to make up for her past have been noble but become fruitless when an extremely informed new neighbor shows up. Jackson tells the riveting story of a woman who’s past has finally caught up with her. Instead of running she faces down her past with her wits, refusing to be manipulated.
At the age of fifteen, Amy made a bad decision. This decision had dire consequences for herself and others. Now in her mid-thirties, Amy is still haunted by her mistake but has found a way to make amends and move forward with her life. When Amy’s new neighbor Roux makes a sudden appearance at her home, Amy’s life is turned upside down. This stranger knows what Amy did all those years ago and is ready to use it against her. Instead of folding, Amy tries to out maneuver Roux to save her reputation and family. Amy and Roux engage in a game which no one can win.
I love a character who is not afraid to fight. Especially if the character is underestimated. Roux is not threatened by Amy; so much so she does not bother to check all the facts linked to Amy’s past. Amy is afraid to find out what Roux is capable of, but not enough to be bullied. Even though Amy’s actions as a teenager cannot be overlooked, readers will still want her to come out on top.
While the central mystery involves only Amy and Roux, there are a lot of mini plots playing out in the background. Amy’s world is on the brink of collapse however, she is also a new mother, a step mother, a supportive friend, and manages to hold down a part time job. Amy’s struggle to maintain her new life while facing her past is also a battle of wits between current Amy and old Amy. Questionable things the old Amy would do offer solutions to her current problems. At times Amy’s internal struggles are even more compelling than her game of cat and mouse with Roux.
Never Have I Ever moves at a slower pace with longer chapters and very little action. However this is not a story of violence, it is more a story of who can out smart whom first. Readers in the mood to read a literary chess match should add Never Have I Ever to their list of must reads.
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars