The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Harlequin Teen
Published on May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.
Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.
It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.
The Problem with Forever is, at its heart, about a boy and a girl who grew up in the bad side of the U.S. foster care system, and their stories after having escaped it. A previously homeschooled senior in high school, Mallory just wants to focus on being normal—especially being able to talk regularly without tripping on every word. But what she doesn’t expect is her childhood protector who she hasn’t seen in years to come dashing into her life from the first day of school.
While there is a good bit of romance, I appreciated that Armentrout didn’t leave that as the sole focus, but rather as a starting point from which so many other important problems stemmed. Mallory’s transformation from a silent mouse into your average teenage girl was a rickety path full of bumps and failures, but Armentrout’s framing was so smooth, I hardly noticed her the subtle changes until all-of-a-sudden I realised I had a fully-functional teenage girl on my hands.
I couldn’t put my finger on the exact moment that I’d become a different Mallory. Maybe because it wasn’t just one moment but more of a combination of hundreds, even thousands of them.
The character development in this book is incredible. Even the side characters were so believable that I didn’t find myself truly disliking even the mean ones. This book had me rooting for everyone, even the people I initially disliked. I did wish that the character portrayals of Carl and Rosa were more consistent. They were Mal’s confidants at the start, and then suddenly they became the people who seemed to be holding her back the most, without very much expectation beforehand. This was a disappointment for me, because the stark difference was just so unbelievable that, even with Mallory’s skewed perspective, I had to completely re-imagine their characters.
That aside, I appreciated that the book covers so many different issues. It’s a story about high school, but it’s also a story about belonging, opportunity disparity, self-worth, and loss. Those are all very powerful topics, and it sounds like a lot for one small book, but I think Armentrout balanced all of these very nicely.
So this was a good read! It was fun to read, and I really rooted for all of the characters. But…it was very slow. The pacing was far from what it should have been. I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t get into it. Reading this book took me over a week to read (given, I did have like 4 P-sets due), but it really shouldn’t have. The book didn’t have much direction, and it was so slow that it was almost painful to get through. So while there were so many good things that I did like about the book, because I couldn’t get into it, I can’t give this more than 3/5 stars. A good book is what keeps you hooked and wanting to know more, and with this, Armentrout did less than satisfactorily. The book tried really hard, and some excerpts were really beautiful, like this one:
Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it really didn’t exist.
But even so, I couldn’t love it.
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