(Never) Again

(Never) Again
by Theresa Paolo
Published by Penguin Group
209 pages
Genre: young adult
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
3.5 / 5

We’ve all been there. That teenage first love, the one you obsess over during class and race to meet in the halls. The one who makes high school more bearable.

The one who breaks your heart.

The one who finds a way to show up, just as you have put yourself back together.

Liz is just that girl. She’s a freshman in college, and she rejoices over having gotten over the loss of her first love. Zach left her, moving to a different state, and, worse, he stopped calling. Just like that. She has a new boyfriend, a best friend who is on her side, and a family who loves her. Who needs Zach?

Well, she gets the answer to that when he shows up on her college campus.

This is predictable YA lit, but fun predictable. Liz is a fairly faithful rendering of a college freshman who wants to think she has her life together, but who is only fooling herself. We know she’s settling for the current boyfriend, and we know where her heart lies. But Zach crushed her, and surely he can’t expect to show back up as if nothing happened, right?

Zach is more than a one dimensional YA love interest. He has his own struggles, although we never quite come to understand why he behaved as he did. His apparent dumping of Liz is only tacitly explained, and doesn’t make much sense once we get to know him. Still, though, we do understand why he still cares for Liz, and we also understand his frustration.

The overwrought crisis that pulls the two together is almost comically hyperbolic, but by that point, you just want Liz to realize what the rest of us have known for 200 pages: she belongs with Zach, and he’s there, waiting for her.

As an unrepentant lover of YA novels, I did enjoy this one. Yes, it’s predictable, but it’s fun. And Zach is super cute.

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