Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

 

Title: Never Have I Ever

Author: Joshilyn Jackson

Published: July 30th 2019, William Morrow

Status: Read July 30th 2019, courtesy William Morrow/Edelweiss

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My Thoughts:

 

“She smiled and I had no premonition as I smiled back. She didn’t look like my own destruction to me.”

Only after inviting neighborhood newcomer Angelica Roux In to join the members of the Brain-Dead Mommies Bookclub clustered in her basement does Amy Whey realise her mistake. Without a shred of humility, and with confidence born of beauty, Roux, as she prefers to be called, disrupts the planned discussion about The House of Mirth, instead leading the women to play an adult game of Never Have I Ever. While a handful of drunken women grow ever more indiscrete, Amy refuses to participate.

“I knew what she was then. Too late, I understood her game.”

Two days later Roux appears again at Amy’s door, but this time she isn’t in the mood for games. Roux demands a quarter of a million dollars or she will reveal a dark secret from Amy’s past that will shatter her well ordered life.

“You owe me. You owe me, and you are going to pay.”

Deftly plotted, offering unexpected twists and turns right up until the last pages, Never Have I Ever is a compelling psychological thriller. Roux’s attempt at blackmail sparks a daring game of cat and mouse between two women who both have a lot to lose.

“She was better at this than I was, more experienced, but I didn’t have to win, after all. I only had to play down to a draw, get enough to make her walk away. I needed two things: a secret and to know who she was hiding it from.”

Amy is not so much interested in winning, as she is in simply ridding herself of the threat Roux poses, but each move she makes is met with a countermove from Roux that escalates the stakes. I’ve always found Jackson’s female characters to have an authentic complexity in thought and behaviour, and it’s no different here. Amy is a sympathetic character, but she refuses to be a victim. As a sociopath, Roux’s actions are more slightly more predictable, she puts her own self interest above everything, except perhaps her son. I was utterly absorbed by the battle of wits as it played out, particularly curious to see just how far Amy was willing to go to protect herself, and those she loves.

“The past remained the same, and so, apparently, had she, but I had come up new.”

Never Have I Ever is a provocative, gripping, and wildly entertaining tale of secrets, betrayal, revenge and redemption. A must read.

Read an Excerpt

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Available from HarperCollins US

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