Welcome to the first Spotlight Sunday of the year. Every Sunday I shine the spotlight on an Australian book that I think deserves to be read. Today I am shining the spotlight on ‘Only Ever Always’ by Penni Russon.
This city’s crumbling to nothing, to rubble around me.
I walk and walk and scour and sift and quarry.
I find what’s left.
Claire lives in an ordinary world where everything is whole. But inside, Claire is broken, so she retreats into a dreamscape.
Clara’s world has always been broken. She avoids the seamy side when she can, but with powerful people pulling the string’s, it’s not always possible.
Claire and Clara’s paths are set to collide, and each has much to lose – or gain.
4 out of 5 stars.
Only Ever Always is an extremely hard book to review. It was written in a very unusual way, and because of this I think it will put off some readers and they just won’t like it. It is free flowing with no chapter breaks, and I found I had to really concentrate while reading to understand what was going on, especially since both main characters have similar names.
In Only Ever Always, we are told two stories – one of Claire’s and one of Clara’s – that cross over.
Clara’s story is told from first person and Claire’s is told from second, which I found a little off putting, but by the end I realised how brilliant it was doing it this way. Although, I found Claire’s POV harder to connect with.
This was not a light read. There was a somber tone over the novel as both girls deal with sorrow and loss. Clara’s world is much darker than Claire’s. She lives in a world of crumbling buildings, scavenging for things to trade at the market, Raiders and Bosses that own people. Clara is dirty and rough with an explosive temper, but she is loyal and fiercely protective.
We experience much more of Clara’s story then we do Claire’s, so I felt a greater connection to her than Claire, even though she is going through a similar harrowing experience at the same time.
Underneath it all, Only Ever Always is a story of love, not just romantic love, which there is a small sprinkling of, but ultimately love for your family, and doing what you can for them when they need you.
It was cleverly written, and I enjoyed it as much as I could enjoy a darker novel. Clara’s world felt very dystopian to me, and with the parallel worlds, I’d say you are more likely to enjoy this if you love speculative fiction. Although difficult, it was still worth the read. It is best devoured slowly, but in one sitting, and at only 157 pages that’s possible.
If you are looking for a fascinating story that is told completely different than what you are used too, Only Ever Always is for you.
You can add it to your Goodreads here.