Published by Harlequin Teen on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Reading Challenges: COYER Summer Vacation
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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.
“Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it really didn’t exist.”
The Problem with Forever is Jennifer L. Armentrout’s latest YA romance. Set in Baltimore, the story follows a traumatized Mallory after she decides to quit home school, and spend her senior year in public school instead. Mallory is a kid who grew up in the system as a foster kid, and unfortunately still suffers from her abusive upbringing. Now living with a loving couple, Mallory tries to make friends, socialize, and learn to speak. You see, Mallory’s coping mechanism for dealing with her abusive foster parents was to whisper, or just keep quiet. She’s been conditioned for so long that even though she’s free from that horror show she can’t seem to find her voice. Rider is the one person Mallory had growing up who cared for her, but after 12 years together a tragic incident tore them apart. Now its been four years since they’ve seen each other until Mallory walks into her speech class to find her oldest friend.
This was a touching story that had me glued to the pages from beginning to end. When it first came out I had my doubts about it, because I normally don’t read a lot of contemporary stories, but I’m glad I changed my mind. Mallory and Rider are both complex characters, and very likable. You can’t help rooting for them to find happiness, whether together or apart. As for their relationship, JLA does a remarkable job building the romance in a realistic manner given their history. Nothing ever feels rushed between them, and their actions always fit with who we know them to be as characters.
One of the aspects of the story I loved was how their past is relayed to the reader. Instead of a massive info dump, JLA weaves the past through dreams, memories, and the characters’ actions. I enjoyed this, because it allowed me to learn what happened to separate them all those years ago in an organic way. Given their history, and how long they’ve known each other it would have felt weird if the past is explained through dialogue. This novel i the perfect example of how to “show” and not “tell” events to your audience.
If you are looking for a heartfelt, romantic story than The Problem with Forever is definitely worth checking out. Not only is it well-written, but the story is beautifully done. The plot never drags, and even though I may have yelled at the book from time to time, that had nothing to do with the writing. JLA makes readers care for these characters, and even though she doesn’t need to follow-up their story, I kind of wish she would just to know that they ended up doing well as adults. A definite must-read!