Review of “Never Have I Ever: A Novel” by Joshilyn Jackson

Amy Whey, 42, feels lucky to have a solid, loving family with her husband Davis, stepdaughter Maddie, and her eight-month-old baby Oliver. She has a nice home and a best friend in Charlotte Baxter, who has a little girl of her own. But Amy has a secret past that isn’t so nice. She thinks there is no way anyone will know, until a newcomer, Angelica Roux, comes to her neighborhood bookclub, and hints that she knows all about Amy. Amy’s world, one she thought was safe and protected, is about to be upended, unless she can come up with a way out. But “Roux” as Angelica calls herself, brings pathological skills and hard-core experience to this game she is playing with Amy, and Amy fears she will lose everything good in her life.

Amy is much like the characters we are used to from Joshilyn Jackson – overflowing with strong, nurturing love for family and friends. But Amy does have a history that takes this character beyond the more quotidian flaws of previous protagonists. Roux, on the other hand, is something new for Jackson: a repugnant and remorseless spider who snares everyone she can into her web and then coldly devours their lives.

Tension and twists keep readers on the edge of their seats until an unexpected revelation about Roux changes the nature of the game.

Evaluation: The writing is as good as usual for Jackson, but some of the characters are beyond despicable, so it’s hard to say I “liked” the story. I’m also still not sure how I felt about Amy’s past. Somewhat ironically, since the story begins with a book club meeting (gone bad), I would love to attend a (normal) book club meeting to hear what other readers make of this story.

Rating: 4/5

Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2019

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5 Responses to Review of “Never Have I Ever: A Novel” by Joshilyn Jackson

  1. Kay says:

    I’m planning on reading this one soon – maybe. I know this is a bit different for the author. I haven’t hit my limit for the ‘unlikable’ characters, but I’m getting close. Have to space them out. One day I may just go back to reading old favorites. Ha! Wonder what the next trend in fiction will be. I keep thinking that the domestic, psychological, unlikable, crazy-as-a-loon thrillers will wane, but maybe not.

  2. Beth F says:

    I too have this on my list. I usually really like Jackson’s books and like the book club setup.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    I loved to hate Roux!

  4. Agh, Jilll, after so many years, I still haven’t read anything by Joshilyn Jackson! A book that starts with a scary book club sounds perfect, really — I love book clubs but there are many ways that they can go awry even if one is not living inside a psychological thriller.

  5. I enjoyed this quite a bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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