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Early Departures

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Justin A. Reynolds, author of Opposite of Always, delivers another smart, funny, and powerful stand-alone YA contemporary novel, with a speculative twist in which Jamal’s best friend is brought back to life after a freak accident . . . but they only have a short time together before he will die again.

Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die . . . again.

He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident.

But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies . . . forever.

Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?

320 pages, Hardcover

First published September 22, 2020

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About the author

Justin A. Reynolds

15 books1,272 followers
justin a. reynolds has always wanted to be a writer. The earliest documentation of this desire was recorded on a sheet of green, learn-how-to-write-with-a-jumbo-pencil ruled kindergarten paper, which can be found prominently displayed in his mom’s office. OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS, his debut novel, was an Indies Introduce Top Ten Debut, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2019, translated in 17 languages, and is being developed for film with Paramount Players. He hangs out in northeast Ohio with his family, and is probably somewhere dancing terribly, or as his sister likes to say "doing the sports". His second novel EARLY DEPARTURES will publish in September 2020.

It's far more likely you can reach justin via Twitter (@andthisjustin) IG (@justinwritesya) or his website. Thank you so much for your support!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 617 reviews
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
May 23, 2021
Wow this book was HEAVY, but also managed to be light and hopeful somehow? But the emotions, oh my god it really drained me. Not in a bad way. But this is very much a story about death and loss, grief and how it can consume you. You can't help but feel for Jamal, feel for Quincy, feel for all of the characters and the loss they have experienced. I feel like I haven't read a book this emotional in a while. It was beautiful though. I love Justin A. Reynold's writing and his characters. And the fact that he writes contemporaries with a twist is just the cherry on top. I feel like I'm going to need days to recover from this because wow. I feel like this book punched me in the face honestly.
Profile Image for Justin A Reynolds.
Author 15 books1,272 followers
July 24, 2020
UPDATE #7:OMFG!?! (as originally posted under this author dude's other very crappy book)

someone please check my blood pressure bc my heart is pounding and NOT in that "i have glorious news" way.

y'all, i heard this dude wrote ANOTHER STUPENDOUSLY SHI**Y BOOK!! this can't be true!! please, please, PUH-LESE someone, anyone, tell me this isn't real!! i mean, the AUDACITY!! the ABSOLUTE NERVE!! i don't wanna believe this but if my far-away observations of this guy are any real indication of his character, then i guess we shouldn't be surprised.

and listen, you didn't hear it from me but word on the street is: his new book early departures (what a stupid title btw! i mean, what?!) is so dreadful it has already forcibly induced spontaneous vomiting!!

GUYS, i'm not even joking. you know i wouldn't say it if it weren't true and easily fact-checkable. so, all i'm saying is, if you wanna avoid throwing up all over yourself, you better give this supernaturally-terrible book wide berth.

i haven't read it yet--and the only reason i'm going to is so i can verify the nausea (no, i'm not brave, just tryna be strong for you guys!)--but i have definitely read this author's guy's face at the coffee shop he frequents & let me tell you, it has one permanent expression: SMUG AF!! which, dude, you wrote a SUPER MEDIOCRE debut so i don't understand how in the world u could look so self-satisfied. talk about obliviousness! let's see him keep that same energy when his next book causes a GLOBAL STOMACHACHE EPIDEMIC--i bet he won't even acknowledge the increase in stomach viruses we're gonna see. i hear the CDC is already prepping vaccines, so...

here's the silver lining tho: if THIS guy can be a published author, there's hope for all of us!!

anyway i guess stayed tuned for updates. more BIG feels coming soon!



Okay, first off, let me apologize for being MIA--I don't think it needs to be said, but 2020, y'all, damnnnnn. like, what's next??

well, that's why i'm here.

because just when we thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, i remembered that justin a. reynolds's second novel is due out september 22nd, which is really not that far off, and honestly i have lots of big feelings. you would think that his publisher might've considered pushing his release date a few months--or you know, maybe forever--considering how trash this year has already been, but it looks like they're on some "let's just get this over with already", which i definitely respect, y'know.

but whatever, that's not the main reason i came to post. GUYS. GUISSSSSEEEE.

i saw early-departures author guy at this socially-distanced pool party (don't worry, i never took my mask off and i kept 18 feet apart because why not be 3x as safe, you know). he didn't spot me, not that he'd acknowledge because as we've already discussed in our review of his previous book, the much-maligned OPPOSITE OF AWESOME, he has zero self-awareness and is super self-absorbed.

side note: when i say self-absorbed, i mean it. he's so self-absorbed that he got into a pool fight, you know when you're splashing water at people, and he got DRENCHED, like FULLY SATURATED, and for a second I felt sorta bad for him--but then literally 2.5 seconds later all of the water was SUCKED INTO HIS BODY and he was BONE DRY. he is LITERALLY SELF-ABSORBENT, guys. like wtf?!?

so obviously i ran out of the pool area as fast as i could--while still maintaining an 18 foot perimeter--and into the house and locked myself into the 1/2 bathroom because obviously this author-guy has made a deal with an incredibly evil spirit, who has clearly granted him the ability to soak up water like a human sponge (his pores must be ginormous?!) and also trick ppl into thinking he can write well--luckily this evil spirit's magic isn't foolproof because i'm totally unaffected, so ha.

also, and i can't believe i almost forgot to mention this part, author-guy's eyes were really BRIGHT RED, which i don't have to tell you guys what that means! hello--he's clearly possessed af! and before the naysayers try to protest, nooo, i don't think his red eyes had anything to do with the pool water being super chlorinated, okay--everyone knows chlorine irritating your eyes is just an urban legend. i'm telling you, author-guy is 100% not to be trusted, period, on everything.

so anyway, i'm sitting there on the 1/2 bathroom floor and--you know what, come to think of it, it was actually a 3/4 bath because it did have a small shower-head on the wall, which i keep forgetting about because it was so inconspicuous, but like there wasn't an actual shower stall or even a curtain, you just took a shower and let the water run all over the place and the floor was sloped so it would eventually find its way into the drain, which i know, this sounds like a absolute nightmare and trust me, you're right, it was; but like also, what's to say someone doesn't just pee on the floor into the drain and then turn the shower on like it's the flushing mechanism, which eww gross, right?! that's what i thought, too, so i taped a sign to the toilet that said "pee here" and then taped another sign on the floor, which required lots of tape because bathroom tape isn't super sticky, not that i'm complaining, honestly i'm lucky there was even tape and markers and paper in the bathroom, you know, but like, kismet. anyway, i taped the second sign near the drain and it said "don't pee here", and it's like, umm why am i the only person who saw the need to clarify this? how many ppl were confused at the set-up prior to my signage?? i'm no hero, guys. like i said, i just love people and i care about the environment like a lot--and normally, i'd never make such a long digression but you guys are my ppl and i know you get me :D

but yeah, i'm sitting there and i'm trembling i'm so worried because author-guy is clearly planning to take over the world or at least our municipality--and i wanted to check in on all the rest of the partygoers and make sure he hadn't eaten their souls or whatever, you know, because i care about people, but i didn't have any service all of a sudden, and i know what you're thinking--author guy somehow manipulated the cellphone towers within a 9 mile radius, and you'd be right. you're a lot smarter than i am because that wasn't even my first thought. i thought my carrier just sucked and that it had something to do with being out in the middle of nowhere because that happens all the time, but later when i really thought about it i was like nope, that was evil author-guy using his ill-gotten powers to generate an electro-magnetic charge that interrupted all of our phones, but mainly just mine. but you knew that before i even said it, didn't you. guys, i so wish you'd been there with me, i would've felt a lot safer tbh.

later on, when i was leaving the party i was making sure i said goodbye to our gracious host and she's such a practical jokester because she was all "umm who are you??" and i was like "hahaha, you're so funny, thanks again, the crab dip was outstanding" and she was like "i'm gonna call the police" and i said "okay but all cell phone service is down because the signals have been blocked" and she was like "please leave now, i'm counting to ten and you better be gone" and i was like "damn, you really see a joke through" but when she had these four other partygoers help me to my car--omg they even took back the big bowl of crab dip i was taking home as a party favor slash joke of my own, haha, can you believe those guys, talk about comedic timing, right??--i started laughing hysterically because that's what separates an okay joke from a hilarious joke. and clearly our host was a joke-delivering pro because rule number 1) you gotta be willing to see the joke all the way through and never, ever break character. so shout out to her. can't wait for the next summer jam!

so i'm backing my car out of the driveway and then i hear a sharp horn blare and i turn around and guess who it is--author-guy!! and i roll down my window and i'm like "hey man you almost killed me" and he said "i'm sorry but will you please put your mask on when you're yelling near my face--which can you believe that, the audacity, when he's destroyed my cell phone service AND demonstrated his evil powers to a pool party with like 50 ppl, but whatever--and then he says "you nearly backed into me, i'm already on the road driving, you weren't even looking" and then i was like "okay, whatever, tomato-tomahtoe". and since i'm the bigger person i let him go ahead of me; also because technically he was already on the road and i needed him to move so i can also be on the road.

and then on the long drive home it started to all make sense. what if he's not evil? like at all? what if he's just been so devastated by how terrible his new book is, that he's been crying and crying, until he's literally exhausted every drop of moisture in his body so that now anytime he's even near water his body just sucks it all in? like why didn't that occur to me before? like duh, right? and the crying would also explain the red eyes. he feels awful knowing how many lives he's negatively impacting with his atrocious storytelling, and like, maybe he's not the evil spirit in the making that we think he is...maybe we've got it all wrong about him and like he's actually deserving of our sympathy. no, our EMPATHY...

but then somehow he got behind me on this one-lane "highway" and beeped his horn at me just because i was going 18mph in a 55 zone. like, ummm, helloooo, safety first, ever heard of it!? plus, 55 is just the maximum limit, i can do whatever speed i want under, y'know?

so yeah, in the end, i'm glad that highway encounter happened because otherwise he might've fooled me into thinking he wasn't so bad after all, but NOPE--he's 100% the evil jerk we all thought he was. we were right, guys. why did we ever doubt ourselves? author-guy definitely still sucks and even though it doesn't seem possible, his books suck harder--and this should go without saying but no, they don't suck in a self-absorbent, water-wicking way, either.

so i'm so happy i got to bring you this important update about author-guy. i hope you guys know that as always i'm willing to risk everything to bring you the unfiltered truth because justice, you know--so until next time, stay safe, guys!! i missed you!!



Okay, guys, so it was brought to my attention by my grandma that my last update was a little..."dark". So, I wanted to apologize. I haven't felt quite like myself lately; I think the quarantine is finally getting to me. So, yeah. My bad. Plus, author-guy is pretty much the worst human ever, who likes to hog outlets at coffee shops but whatever, "no one can steal our joy without our permission", grandma says, so not gonna dwell on that today.

Let's just focus on the fact that I created awesome, embarrassment-saving signage for that person's 3/4 bathroom and forget the rest of update #8, okay?

Let's accentuate the positive here. Even despite author-guy's terrible, vomit-inducing books, there are still lots of good books being made, and that's no small miracle.

Okay, I'm gonna go binge some Hulu. Any suggestions on what I should watch?? Okay, Happy Sunday Funday and all that good stuff. (See, look, I'm happy! And here's a smiley face to prove it :D) Byeeee!


please, please, please tell me this author-guy is NOT the same justin a. reynolds who was just announced as writing a miles morales/spider-man graphic novel?!

umm, marvel, you guys have been on a roll, and if you keep going as you have, you're sure to be a household name sooner than later--but c'mon, AUTHOR-GUY SUCKS!!! and that's not my opinion, or some half-baked theory, that has been scientifically proven. saying justin a. reynolds is a terrible writer is like saying the sun is warm. saying justin a. reynolds is an awful novelist is like saying water is wet.

okay, maybe that last analogy is a little murky, but still. point is, author-guy, AKA justin a. reynolds, couldn't write himself out of a cardboard picture book. facts.

alright, that's it. i'm late for afternoon shuffleboard. toodles.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews168k followers
March 4, 2021
Dang this book had me all up in my feels. I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride going in, but didn't realize how much I'd feel the impact. Another solid Justin A. Reynolds book!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,438 reviews78k followers
August 27, 2020
"I'll always be with you, I'm everywhere you are."

I am officially a puddle of mush. If there is one lesson I took away from this book, it's that we should make every moment count, because we never know how long we have with the people that we love. Sure, that's easier said than done, and "living life to the fullest" sounds like one of those sayings people have plastered on a piece of reclaimed wood hanging in their kitchen, but there is so much truth in these words. While reading this book, I was reminded that yes, we all screw up from time to time, and we don't always make a point to focus on the important things in the day to day grind, but perhaps if we made more of an effort to prioritize people and relationships, there wouldn't be quite as many regrets on both ends when people pass. Gripping, with swells of emotion and unexpected suspense, Early Departures took me by surprise, and I highly recommend anyone with a heart, whether you're a teenager or a grandparent, to give this quietly powerful novel a read.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura).
505 reviews730 followers
September 30, 2021
Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for the gifted review copy!

When I say Justin A. Reynolds is one of my favorite authors, I mean he's one of my favorite authors. No questions asked. I read Opposite of Always last year and it was one of my favorite books! This was definitely no exception. I've come to expect two things from Justin A. Reynolds. A lot of laughing and a lot of crying. I mean I finished the book I ended my day happy and sad all at the same time.

The book is contemporary but has a bit of a sci-fi feel to it as well. I'll admit one thing. I loved Opposite of Always so much that I added this book as soon as I saw it without even really reading the synopsis. Like I had a faint idea but nothing really concrete. And there I am, reading the book and then I get hit with this little sci-fi moment and I'm a little surprised and all intrigued. Anyways, this was a very wholesome story. We've all had those friendships that we wish had gone different and what do you do when you get a second chance?

Jamal had to address a lot of things in this one. It wasn't easy to have gone through what he has and it consumed him in a way. I was really rooting for him and Q to reconcile. There were so many scenes that I absolutely loved. Jamal is such a sweet person and him and Q being friends just made my heart squeeze. The story was incredibly sad and I teared up way too many times for it to be normal, but it was also a very beautiful story. I finished the book feeling sad but also content. I'll be honest I still don't have enough words to describe this book and my brain hasn't processed everything yet. There's so much about finding family and realizing the people who always have your back. There was so much growth and love and that's honestly all I wanted. I will add one last thing, if you want a story that captivates and makes you feel everything then this is it. 

Please do yourselves a favor and add this on Goodreads and pre-order a copy!
Profile Image for Bang Bang Books.
490 reviews212 followers
October 3, 2020
Great concept but the execution...

Issues I Had With This Book
* The Pacing was a Bit Off- After Q is reanimated, the pacing goes a bit too fast. Q and Jamal had a big falling out where Jamal just ghosted Q and they have one little bitty conversation about it and that's all. I know sometimes in real life when you have a falling out with a long lost friend, sometimes it only takes an apology to fix everything but I don't want to read that in a book. I want to see them get angry and cry and absolve. Admitting you were wrong and apologizing is hard even when it's a best friend and I would have liked to see more of that. It didn't need to be immediate; it could have been a gradual make up.

* Q Who? Q dies pretty quickly in the story so now it's imperative that the author develops him post mortem. This can be difficult to do but it's important if I'm to connect with him and feel his loss. Reynolds didn't do this effectively and when he dies again, I didn't cry like I should have. A fantastic book that does this well was Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. Q and Jamal have a popular Youtube channel and this would have been the perfect opportunity for the reader to get to know Q but it's underdeveloped. This is a shame because I haven't read a YA that has managed to do Youtube well.

* Mother Son Relationship- I know this book isn't about Q's mom but I feel like if she just lost her child, there should be more attention on them. When Q is only given a couple of weeks to live after reanimation, he goes back to school. Um...why would you go back to school? I would take my son on vacation. Once again, I know this story is told from Jamal's POV but still; it doesn't make sense to send him to school.

* Execution-At one point at the end, the POV changes to Q for a couple of chapters. I don't like when authors do this; it makes it feel like they didn't plan their book well. If you need to find a way to get the perspective of a different character, put your book in 3rd person. It was odd and out of place.

* Where's the Nuance? Jamal is struggling with his parent's death and the way he deals with it and grows is typical and I think teens will relate but I've read this grief storyline before which means this book lacks nuance which means it's not at critical as it could have been. When I read books that have a familiar plot, like grief, I want to see how the MC deals with it in his own unique way because although the plot is familiar, this MC isn't. However, Reynolds didn't add a new perspective to grief so I had to lower my rating. I factor a critical narrative into my enjoyment of books regardless if it's YA or adult. I have read some very deep thinkers in YA so I know it's possible-More Happy Than Not is a great example of a similar plot.

Nit Picks-I had A LOT
* Q was supposed to be a gifted comedian but he wasn't funny. I love stand up and comedy in general and when Q does his stand up, he tells airplane jokes that Seinfeld did in the 80's. If you don't know how to write humor, don't make your MC a stand up comedian.

* Slang-There were a couple of outdated slang terms. At one point, someone says, with the quickness. I said this when I was 13 and I'm in my 40's. It's like Reynolds was using slang he used when he was a teen and not how teens actually talk. Just a nit pick.

* The Girlfriend-She was trying too hard to be quirky world changer but I didn't really like her.

* There was a famous TFIOS quote that could have been a homage but I was laughing out loud...HARD.

* I didn't like the audiobook voice of Jamal. I know this sounds REALLY AWFUL to say but the voice of Jamal did not sound like a Black man. I had to look it up because it was bothering me a lot. He was Black but he didn't sound like it and yes, I know that sounds insensitive but Black people tend to have a tone in their voice and you can tell if you are speaking to a Black man or woman over the phone and I'm not talking about dialect. I am talking about tone and when Jamal started talking I was perplexed and it was a bit distracting-not gonna lie.

What I Liked:
* I liked the idea. I enjoy contemporary mixed with science fiction in my YA- I find that it adds a new and exciting dynamic.

* There were some really good quotes in this book. My favorite was when Jamal was thinking about his girlfriend and he thinks, "She has so many dreams, I don't want to punch holes in them." Sure it's just a different way of saying he doesn't want to hold her back but I appreciate the effort.

* When it was Q's last day, I liked that these two brown boys told each other that they loved one another. You don't see that too often on the page or in real life and I really liked that moment.

I like Reynolds writing style and I would read something else by him; the first 20% was really good. If you are a librarian, I do think this would be a good book to give to teens and for a book club.
Profile Image for -ˏˋjamieˊˎ-.
277 reviews139 followers
September 30, 2020
“How are we supposed to leave the past behind, if it doesn’t leave us too?”

Thank you to Epic Reads and the publisher for this ARC! All opinions are my own.

I... honestly don't know if I've ever cried so hard while reading a book. When I tell you I was bawling for the final 40 pages, I mean literally, tears were streaming down my face so hard, I had trouble reading.

But, to be clear—it was in the best way possible. Early Departures was emotional, raw, thought-provoking, and so worth reading.
“Sometimes it’s the things that don’t happen that haunt us hardest.”

Characters - Definitely the strongest part of the book. Jamal was a very believable main character with a solid voice, and my heart really ached for Q; their dynamic was so real, and I loved how their friendship persisted through their ups and downs. Autumn, Whit, and Ms. B were wonderfully-written characters as well.
Writing - So unique. Justin A. Reynolds's writing shone from the very first page and kept me gripped until the end. Every sentence was masterfully created, and there were also so many gems of life wisdom sprinkled in, making the narration sound that much more authentic—I'm really impressed.
Story - Ouuuch. This story really got to me. It feels weird to say I enjoyed it when it actually reached into my body and twisted my heart, but that just shows how good it was. Jamal's journey and inner conflicts were so honest and true, and the sprinkle of magical realism was the perfect way to explore a thought that everyone has had (or will have) at some point in our lives—what if I had another chance to say goodbye? The messages throughout the book explored this beautifully
Story pt.2 - Okay, so my rating might technically be a 4.5 or 4.75 stars, because I was really unsure about the whole reanimation thing for the first part of the book. The story got pretty technical/clinical with some of the details, which I felt took away from the whimsicality of the magical realism aspect a little, but I did get into it eventually. And everything came together by that ending, which just truly obliterated me to the point that I really can't even go back and complain. :)

Overall: Early Departures really made me think about best friendship and the time I'm spending on this Earth and many other philosophical things. Like I said though—in the best way. Jamal and Q's story will definitely stay with me for a long time. Highly recommend, but have tissues prepared!
Profile Image for Gerardine  Betancourt .
293 reviews50 followers
March 20, 2022
How do you live your life if you knew you only have a few days left on earth?
In this book, Jamal Anderson has been angry with his best friend Quinn for 2 years after a call from his friend led to the death of Jamal's parents.
When an accident occurs in which Quinn passes away, the world of Jamal and Quinn's mother falls apart. In the hospital, they discover that there is a place called the Center in which they revive or reanimate a person for several days so that their loved ones can say their goodbyes.
Jamal sees this as an opportunity to fix things with his friend and also be able to say goodbye to Quinn.
This book was a rollercoaster of emotions for me. It is a reminder of the little control we have in life situations and that despite everything we must live the best we can without any regret.
As Quinn says: "We only get a finite amount of time, don waste it with regrets, don't waste a second".

4 stars for me
Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for anika.
52 reviews32 followers
July 23, 2021
this book was so good!!! the way that the chapters were written in like a ‘countdown’ format (it started on chapter 100 or so and ended on chapter 1), and the entire concept of the story were so well written. my only complaint is that the first half of the book was kind of confusing and i didn’t really know what was going on until the middle, but that may have just been because i was reading fast. solid 4.5/5!
Profile Image for kate.
1,146 reviews924 followers
July 29, 2021
Beautifully written and brimming with raw emotion, Justin Reynolds has once again proved his stories, characters and talent to be true gifts to the world.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,039 reviews320 followers
October 6, 2020
My first book from Justin Reynolds and I am a fan!

I was pleasantly surprised on how amazing this book was. I read this book without first reading what it’s about and I stayed away from early reviews.

This book tackled the subject matter of loss and grief with a speculative twist and scientific element to answer theoretical questions about life and death, bending the stages of grief, and a creative plot that addresses families, friendships and love.

The writing was beautiful and deep, characters complex - a fantastic contemporary YA read I highly recommend!
Profile Image for Laura Swallow.
Author 1 book56 followers
January 10, 2021
Another amazing book by Justin A. Reynolds that I read in a day! His writing is so funny and so interesting that I can’t stop reading it. I feel like I can really connect with the characters and his writing is a just a little bit outside of reality that it keeps me guessing. Can’t wait to see what he puts out next!
Profile Image for Jonathan David Pope.
123 reviews220 followers
February 7, 2021
"Because it's hard to let go even when you know it's coming" (438)

Jamal and Quincy used to be friends. But when Quincy drowns, while saving the life of another, all of the regrets Jamal has about the way their friendship ended come catapulting back. New technology allow Quincy to be re-animated, but there is a catch. Can Jamal fix things before Quincy dies again? How do you learn to let pain, grudges, and even people go?

I have to say that I enjoyed reading this. The concept is cool, and the execution was solid. I've noticed a lot of YA novels are tackling the process of grief, which is wonderful. It's something that so many young people are dealing with, and talking about it really the beginning of making progress.

The romance was my least favorite part of this book, and distracted a bit from the narrative of friendship and grief, but I'm sure the intended audience will like it. Another gripe I have is the plot holes, concerning the whole reanimation process. What does everyone else think happened to Q? How do you handle things after the person dies again? Do you have a funeral? What does public record say about cause of death? I feel like with a bit more world building (creating a bit more of a futuristic setting) would have aided in this.

But, overall, this didn't feel like a 400+ page novel, which is awesome. I think YA audiences will really enjoy this.

Rating: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 15 books822 followers
March 23, 2021
Jamal and Q used to be tight, to the point where they made videos together as a comedy duo. But then Jamal's parents died, and he blamed Q. Now, two years later, Jamal sees Q drowning and tries to save him. Though he fails, the doctors say they can reanimate Q for short period time in an experimental procedure so he can say his good-byes. Q's mother doesn't want Jamal to tell Q that his life is going to be cut short (again), but Q doesn't remember drowning, and he's confused about why Jamal wants to make amends. Because Jamal does want to make things right... but how can he be honest with Q about his feelings but now about why?

My coworker was telling me about this book and it sounded so fascinating - a lot like Adam Silvera's books where it's a contemporary story with a slight sci-fi twist to it. I loved how this was all about friendship and how fluid friendship can be, how strong even after something that seemed to have destroyed it. I think I was expecting it to be a lot heavier and darker, considering that it involves death and a sort of Frankenstein-esque experiement, but because Jamal and Q are comedians, these elements are handled lightly, and retains the focus on recapturing a past friendship and remembering the good times. The concept was great and really hit home in a lot of ways.
Profile Image for Tamika.
429 reviews31 followers
January 2, 2021
Super lovely. Its an amazing examination of grief, depression and forgiveness. With such a heavy topic Mr Reynolds treated these topics with care and tenderness. I was able to both cry and laugh and in the end my heart was filled with love.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,138 reviews1,009 followers
September 20, 2020
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Ah, it's another book in which I don't know how to do it justice because it was that fabulous, but again, I'll do my best! Early Departures is such a beautiful story of family, friendship, love, and loss. It was seriously one of the most moving books I have ever read, frankly.

Jamal has been through it. He's currently living with his pregnant sister after his parents died in a tragic car accident. He's alienated from his best friend, Q, because Jamal blames Q for his parents' accident, and in turn, Q feels abandoned by Jamal. It's so, so messy, because both young men have been through hell and back, and they need each other more than ever.

And then, at a random summer party, Q drowns. Jamal tries his hardest to save him, but by the time they get him to the hospital, it's too late. Only, Q's mom is given an option: Bring Q back, but only for a few days, or weeks at most. And as most moms would, she accepts. But here's the catch: Q won't remember the moments before his death.

So, Jamal, his sister Whit, his girlfriend Autumn, and Quincy and his mom set out to make Quincy's remaining time the best it can be. At first, it's only Quincy's mom and Jamal who know the truth, and the others are just so glad to have these best friends reunited that they're game. And as lies do, this one overwhelms Jamal at times.

But ultimately, Jamal realizes that while he has lost a lot, he also has a lot, too. He is finally ready to share memories and traditions he'd had with his parents, and he finds a new family in this group of people who love him so, so fiercely. And while he is all too aware that he'll lose Quincy again soon, he now has so many beautiful memories to take with him. It's a journey for Jamal, a healing journey, that teaches him that he is still very much alive, and while he will always hold those who have passed close to him, he also has a lot of living people who will be there for him unconditionally.

Bottom Line:  This is such a wonderfully emotive and moving book; and while I cried (hard), I smiled in equal measure. A true gem.
Profile Image for Jodie.
45 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2021
This book feels like a friend finding you alone and lost, taking you by the shoulders, and shaking you awake. You awaken from a long, dark and all encompassing daze of sadness, only to find yourself crying with joy in a warm, loving hug that eventually, although it has saved you from despair, has to end.

*** to any concerned friends reading this review, I am not the said person in despair, I’m being hypothetical, im all good tucked up in bed in my Star Wars pjs with a peppermint tea thinking how fab this book was, don’t sound the alarm ***

I am clearly very emotional about this book, MUCH like I was after finishing the Opposite of Always.

As always with Reynolds’ reads, I feel at the ripe age of 25 that I’m hella old, and no longer understand how teenagers speak to each other. When did I stop relating with teenage characters and start relating to the PARENTS instead!? Tragic scenes.

Full of absolute cheese moments in a way only Reynolds writing style can get away with, the story was interesting and warm and loving and heartbreaking all at the same time. Pick this book up!
Profile Image for Jthbooks.
142 reviews59 followers
March 21, 2022
I’m going to start this review with a warning, get the tissues at the ready. You will need them. You will definitely need them. I did. I needed them. A lot of them. Forever Ends on Friday is a book that I really enjoyed. There’s a lot to connect with, with wonderful characters and a heartbreaking story. It’s the kind of book you pick up and struggle to put down. One of the highlights of this book is the connection between the characters that Justin creates. They are so sincere and heartfelt. I loved the friendship between Jamal and Q, like I said you can really feel the connection between them. But there’s also the relationship between Jamal and Autumn. Jamal and his sister, Q and his mum. Honestly they all had such depth to them. They really grounded the novel. Forever Ends On Friday deals with really heavy subject matter but its all dealt with, with real honesty and emotion. There are some really emotional moments, which I know you’d expect from a book surrounding death, but because you really grow to care for the characters it makes it worse. If you’d like to know where I ugly cried (yes obviously I ugly cried) it was the conversation between Q and his mum. Oh I’m was so sad! So, so sad. But please don’t think you’ll read this book and be depressed after finishing it, there’s at times some real light-hearted ness to the book. With the romance between Jamal and his sister and Jamal and Autumn, they provide some real funny and sweet moments. It will also have you asking yourself some questions, would you bring someone back from the dead if you could, for a short while? Would you tell them what happened and they didn’t have long left? I know it’s something I’ve been thinking about after reading it. Forever Ends On Friday is a really enjoyable contemporary, with a hint of sci-fi that I really enjoyed, that will tug at your heartstrings and remind you what truly important in life. You’ll treasure your friends and loved ones after this. I can’t recommend this book enough. Thank you so much to Amber at MyKindaBook for my gifted copy, in return for an honest, unbiased review. And thanks for having me on the blog tour. It’s out now.
Profile Image for Saira B Ismail.
93 reviews11 followers
May 3, 2022
**A huge thank you to Pan Macmillan for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

“We were better than blood because we’d chosen our brotherhood. Because we kept choosing, time and again.”

“It’s confusing — how your heart holds your love and your hurt in the same chamber.”

This book has taught me to grasp every moment and to just live life to the fullest with no regrets. It reminded me of how little control we have over situations in life.

I love love love that the focus of this book was the friendship. It was kinda refreshing actually – the whole second chance at friendship instead of the usual second chance at a romantic relationship. The romantic relationships were there but it was never at the forefront of the story.

I also really loved the found family that was created between Jamal, Whit, Quincy, Autumn and Quincy’s mom.

I liked pretty much all of the characters. They were amazing yet flawed which made them very real.

One aspect of the book that didn’t quite sit right with me was how lightning quick it took to mend the friendship between Jamal and Quincy and how they seemed to instantly go back to normal after not being friends for two years!

Another thing I found a little unrealistic is how quick Quincy came to terms with dying and just accepted his ill fate after thinking it over for what seemed like less than an hour.

Forever Ends on Friday is a great exploration of depression, loss, grief and forgiveness. Overall it was a unique and interesting story that was heartbreaking, warm and also heartwarming at the same time.

“... Carpe Diem is, and will always be, about family. And family isn’t only what you’re born into. Some family you’re given, and some family you choose.”

“But the best way to make things right is to ask the person how you can. And then follow through on that. You’re only helpful to someone if what you do actually helps. Otherwise you’re just making yourself feel better and that’s what ice cream’s for.”
Profile Image for Joanna Meyer.
Author 5 books709 followers
October 23, 2020
This book is the perfect combo of punch-you-in-the-heart feels, pacy plot, and sharp, vivid characters, with a light sci-fi element that ties everything together. I couldn’t read it fast enough.
Profile Image for Jay DeMoir.
Author 18 books53 followers
April 9, 2021
The narrative just didn’t flow very well... I was excited about the premise but it just felt like it was missing something. By 11% I still wasn't hooked so it's time to put this one away.
Profile Image for Anika  | Chapters of May.
234 reviews165 followers
January 6, 2021
After only two books, Justin A. Reynolds has become one of my favourite young adult authors. His novels are exceptionally compelling, emotionally memorable, and always worth the adventure.

Like Opposite of Always, Forever Ends on a Friday is contemporary but has sci-fi elements that add excitement to a wholesome foundation. In the book, Jamal’s best friend Quincy dies in a freak accident. Their friendship was in ruins after Jamal blamed Quincy for his parents' death, and now Jamal is heartbroken over the loss of his best friend. But when an extraordinary opportunity means Quincy gets a second chance at life, Jamal is determined to repair their friendship and finally say goodbye.

I love the care and tenderness in which Reynolds examines grief, depression and redemption, especially in teenagers. Jamal and Quincy’s friendship is a true bond, which becomes evident in their difficult pasts and depth of their heartfelt conversations. After reading Opposite of Always this doesn’t surprise me, but I adore the levity Reynolds uses to create a hard-hitting and an entertaining read. The balance is perfect recipe for a profound contemporary story.

There’s a strikingly relatable pain in this novel that I think almost every reader can relate to. The believability of the emotion despite the fictitious narrative is both beautiful and heart-breaking. It’s a story that certainly leaves the reader with a lot to think about, but the importance of living every moment to its fullest is abundantly clear.

One of my favourite elements of the book is its structure. The chapters are numbered, and descend from 100, with some of them only being a page long. This, along with the connections between the characters, their tangible trauma, and the discovery of healing while losing, makes Forever Ends on a Friday a stunningly poignant read.

For more book reviews and posts, check out my blog or follow along on Instagram 📚✨
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 21 books372 followers
September 2, 2021
I knew this was going to make me cry and I was rightttttttttt. I listened to this as an audiobook and definitely recommend it, the VAs do an incredible job.

Everything about this was so well done. I loved the core friendship, the sibling relationship, the parental relationships, the romantic relationship, and how they all interacted together. Everyone in this felt very, very, real which was very rude of Justin A. Reynolds considering we go in knowing that at least Q ends up dead.

The death aspect was expertly done. It was a really good idea to have the reconciliation happen fairly quickly instead of drawing it out to give us more time to fall head over heals for the characters and I really like that Reynolds chooses to play into Q's life instead of making the story heavily about his death because it makes it all the more impactful when the conclusion arrives.
Profile Image for Erica Henry.
241 reviews25 followers
January 5, 2023
I know it's really early in the year and I have a lot more books to read, BUT this book was by far the BEST book I've read like EVER! Five stars just doesn't cut it, not even close. There was so many emotions behind this story. I laughed. I cried. There were some amazing quotes. (Wished I would have annotated this book so I could share some with you.) Amazing relationships and friendships. Just an all around amazing read. I would highly recommend it. Read it. Like right now. ❤️ 💙 💜 💖 💗 💘 ❤️
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