Title: The Problem with Forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Published: 16th June 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
My Rating: ★★★★★
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
“Dusty, empty shoe boxes, stacked taller and wider than her slim body, wobbled as she pressed her back against them, tucking her bony knees into her chest.”
General Thoughts (non-spoiler)
Oh guys, this was such a good one! It pulled at my heartstrings with its dealing of serious issues and made me fall in love with it’s wonderfully written characters. This book had a strong plot and I didn’t feel bored throughout at all, I actually kept feeling a lot of the same things that the main character felt. It was the weirdest experience but I loved every second of it! This one kept me hooked and is definitely one of my favourites this year, I really feel the need to pick up another Jennifer L. Armentrout book now! 🙂
Ps. I am so raging that I didn’t read this book before writing my Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Character Names post, because the name Rider Stark definitely deserves to be on that list!
Review (contains spoilers)
Just before I begin to divulge my feels, I actually finished this book last week and have been super busy recently so if I forget to mention some aspects of the story then I’m sorry!
So, I’ve been receiving a lot of books for review recently, including this one, and have been in a bit of a mad rush to read them and post my review before their release date. Because of this, I actually managed to go into this book without even reading the synopsis first. I know, wow Shannon. As a result, this book wasn’t anything like I had expected it to be but it was wonderful nonetheless.
The way child abuse is dealt with throughout this novel was very tactfully and masterfully done – only vividly dwelling on the issue in dreams or flashbacks. I’ve never read a book involving serious child abuse like this so when I realised that this was what the book centred around, I subconsciously became slightly worried. However, the characters actions and feelings made so much more sense because of what they had been through and it made me care for them that little bit more than what I usually would have. I think the author did a great job of incorporating the horror’s of the protagonists’ past into their life right now and showcasing how this has affected them (and the people around them).
I should probably mention one of these protagonists now… Mallory “Mouse” Dodge is a seventeen year old girl who has been enduring intensive therapy and home schooling for several years. She’s quiet, anxious, and enjoys carving shapes into soap in her free time (in my mind I said all of that like a game show host). I can understand why some people may have gotten frustrated with Mallory’s character because she is so scared and broken at the beginning of the novel, but I thought she was a brilliant lead and very relatable. The author did an amazing job of describing her anxiety in certain situations, almost too good of a job because I could actually feel my heart racing and palms getting sweaty for her. It was quite a strange experience. Overall though, I love how we got to follow her journey to self-acceptance and seeing her become more confident in herself. It really was a lovely payoff at the end, realising that she’s going to be okay and that she’s a survivor.
Another character who also goes on quite the journey in this book is Rider Stark. I want to describe Rider as a bit of a bad boy, but that’s the wrong generalisation really. He just has that whole “nobody cares about me, I don’t care about my myself” vibe going on throughout this book. He isn’t all doom and gloom though, he’s a protective, artistic and highly passionate human being which drew me to him instantly. I loved seeing how these two main characters regained the relationship they once had when they were children and how they both understand each other on a deeper level. And of course I was rooting for them both to get together because, well, they are pretty much perfect for each other. As I previously mentioned, I’ve never read a book like this so I was absolutely enthralled by everything and how the characters acted.
Some other issues this book deals with are death and blindness, which I was definitely not expecting. Mallory’s best friend, Ainsley (love her, by the way), gets diagnosed with a condition that will eventually result in her losing sight in both of her eyes completely. And Rider’s brother, for all intents and purposes, Jayden, is killed in a drive by shooting because he owed money to drug dealers. Both of these incidents came as such a huge shock to me because in YA, unless you’re reading a John Green book, these types of things don’t happen often. I also cared about these two characters enough to feel so incredibly bad for them when Ainsley found out her diagnosis and Mallory and Rider witnessed Jayden’s death. Both of these characters were written well and they were hilarious, both lightening up the scenes they were in. I thought the author actually did a good job of tackling these two issues whilst still revolving the story around the two main lead’s.
Another aspect of this book which I paid a considerable amount of attention to was Mallory’s adoptive parents, Rosa and Carl. They have both given her a second chance at life and provided her with so many opportunities that she couldn’t even dream of when she was a child. Although they had done so much for her, I had a huge problem with Carl. Rosa is great, I like her, but Carl is definitely not winning any parenting awards in my opinion. I’m not even that mad with him about the whole Rider situation, even though that still did irk me, but we get an explanation for all of that when he explains about how his brother died. What really annoyed me was the fact that he laughed in Mallory’s face when she told him she wanted to be a social worker instead of a doctor. Social work is a very respectable career, especially considering everything she’s been through in life, so I just couldn’t understand it. To me, he seemed a little stuck up and constantly in his own bubble, where whatever he says goes. I know that he came around to the idea at the end but it still bothered me how he reacted in the first place.
Coming back to Mallory and Rider, the end realisation of this book broke my heart. The whole way through this book we have been hearing about how Mallory is still suffering after the trauma of her childhood, but we never see any visible effects in Rider. He seems like he got out unscathed, mostly. All of this comes crashing down at the end though, when Mallory and Rider have an argument and she realises just how broken he is. Rider doesn’t care what happens to him because he’s already given up on his life; he has no expectations and therefore makes sure other people don’t have any of him either. Basically, all of the bad things that have happened to him since he left the abusive home he used to live in with Mallory has been self-inflicted, and he can’t seem to get his head around the fact that his life matters and that there are people who love and care for him. As someone who’s never felt the pain of child abuse, or known anyone who has, I found this so incredibly interesting and sad. The light at the end of the tunnel though, is that after their conversation Rider begins to try and love himself and Mallory continues down her own road to recovery, which results in the book ending on a high. I love a good happy ending, don’t you? ❤
“The past never went away and it was not designed to do so.”
I actually have two favourite quotes from this book. This next quote is actually contradicted by the main character at the end, but I still like it, especially since it links to the title of the book.
“Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it really didn’t exist.”
- Characters: ★★★★★
- Plot: ★★★★☆
- Ending: ★★★★★
- Originality: ★★★★☆
- Cover: ★★★★★
Are you excited for this book? If you are then you can pick this one up today! (in the UK, at least). Tell me what you think of this in the comments if you’ve read it 🙂