I discovered Southern lit author Joshilyn Jackson several years ago, and have since read everything she’s written (with the exception of a short story on my Amazon wish list, hint hint, family!). I love her writing style and how each character and world is so intricately developed. The plots and characters stay with you long after you’ve finished the last sentence, and you may be brushing your teeth one day when a particular scene from The Almost Sisters pops into your head once again. She’s just that good.
Many early reviews cited this as Jackson’s most suspenseful book yet. I’d have to disagree; I think it’s completely on par with her other novels. Her novels often feature a mystery to solve, and this novel holds as many surprises as the others. Shocking twists and turns make this book nearly impossible to stop thinking about, even when you’re forced to do normal life things like make dinner or sleep.
The plot does have some disturbing elements, so be prepared for that. But it’s important to have these kinds of plots to talk about this kind of monster; otherwise, our silence empowers them. I’d have never expected this development, and that’s the point: anyone can be a monster in disguise.
The characters are well developed, as is their world. This particular book may seem darker or more suspenseful because the characters could be anyone. It’s set in an average neighborhood, with all the tiny dramas of neighbors who regularly interact with one another. From book club to running into old classmates at the grocery store, this story could be set anywhere and have similar results. If horror can lurk in the shadows there, it can lurk anywhere.
In each of her novels, Jackson introduces me to a new type of person. In The Almost Sisters, I got to be in the head of a female comic book artist. In A Grown Up Kind of Pretty, the generational toll teen motherhood takes is examined. With Between, Georgia we share experiences with a sign language interpreter. Now with Never Have I Ever, we delve in to the world of scuba.
Scuba is the perfect choice for this book. The meditative qualities of being underwater are extended with scuba, and we see how characters use it as a kind of therapy. The role scuba plays in interpersonal relationships is interesting and once again I feel like Jackson has opened a whole new world up to me, all through this book.
I’ve enjoyed all of Jackson’s books, and this one is no exception. It’s just as well done as the others, though I can’t see myself re-reading it. Some fears are too deep to examine more than once, and this one plays on fears my mama heart had never put a name to.