Seeing an old friend randomly is often a happy coincidence, but seeing an ex boyfriend... eh, that's a mixed bag. Kaily Crane is shocked when she sees her ex boyfriend, Cade, for the first time in ten years. Cade, once a successful businessman, is now homeless, barely recognizable, and doesn't seem to remember Kaily. "Always" follows Kaily's life as she tries to help Cade while balancing her relationship with her fiance, her friendships, and her career. Will it all come toppling to the ground? And if it does, would that be worth having the love of her life again?
by Sarah Jio
Enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiancé, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crain can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a journalist and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As she and Ryan leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense—everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what—and whom—she wants. Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.
Enjoyable, at times, main character
While I struggled with reading this book at times, I did really enjoy components of the main character, Kailey. She genuinely seemed like a good hearted person who wanted the best for her ex boyfriend, Cade- which I admire. Her concern for him, and the homeless community at large, is admirable in fact, and I enjoyed reading her point of view. I did not, however, appreciate her dishonesty towards her fiancee, Ryan. While it might've been difficult to tell the truth of the situation to Ryan, the author presents him as a kind and caring person and it seemed as though he would've been happy to help Cade. Kailey's dishonesty, sneaking behind her Ryan's back to help and spend time with an ex boyfriend, felt like a betrayal, and made me really dislike Kailey. It felt like an important part of this book was me buying into the relationship between Kailey and Cade, and rooting for them whether friends or more, and that was difficult for me to do. Kailey's choices made the impossible for me to do. For someone who is so eager to protect Cade, she had very few worries about how her actions would affect Ryan, which felt off to me from her other characteristics.
While I have never visited Seattle, in fact most of my knowledge about the city comes from my extensive consumption of Grey's Anatomy, I felt the author, Sarah Jio, did an excellent job portraying Seattle and it was a great setting for this book. I was in elementary school during the 1990's when the music scene there was so hot, but I still enjoyed hearing about the bands that the author referenced, such as the then "up and comers" Death Cab for Cutie. One of the stronger storylines in the book centered around Cade and his business partner having differing ideas regarding their company, which bands to pursue, and new talent to develop.
Things I Struggled With
Unfortunately, I could only give "Always" two stars. There were just too many issues that I had with the book. The greatest of these was the way that Cade's medical mystery was handled. While I do not know that much about significant brain injuries, I do watch a lot of Grey's Anatomy!, and his miraculous recovery and easy treatment plan just felt impossible to believe, which made the ending frustratingly dull. Also, how did this super successful businessman and man about town also become a missing person in the same city? As far as writing style, "Always" dd not feel especially nuanced and the characters weren't very well developed. There weren't any moments when reading that I stopped to jot down a quote or reread a page to explore a particularly enjoyable passage. That being said, I did finish the book, and I didn't have. I wanted to see what would happen between the characters and how the situation would resolve. I think that readers who enjoy reads that are more of a guilty pleasure might get more out of this that I did.
Have you read "Always"? Let me know what you thought of the book down below. I would love to chat with you about it! Thinking about reading this book? Click here to find a copy at your local library or click below to view the book on Amazon.
Many thanks to Random House and Ballantine Books for allowing me to read this book prior to publication. As a "girl about library", where books are always free, you can be sure that all opinions expressed are my own. Happy reading!