Review: The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Growing up, Mallory Dodge 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, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at a public high school. But she never imagined 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 soon it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make 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.
I've read a lot of Jennifer L Armentrout books, including [the majority of] her Covenant and Lux series. I've had conversations with fellow writing friends about how I have no earthly idea how she writes so. damn. much. It's kind of breathtaking, the number of books this woman has written.
Based on my experience with her other series, I was certainly intrigued when I heard she was publishing an angsty YA contemporary romance. (I promise I spent a while trying to come up with the best word...and it was definitely intrigued.) I wanted to know more, but I definitely waited a while to really find out.
Well, I picked up The Problem With Forever on a rainy Sunday and...I read and read and read all day long, took it with me to bed, and read more until I literally couldn't read anymore and fell asleep with it on my pillow.
This book...I have a lot of feels about this one.
Characters. They're not all middle-class white people with basic problems. The parents are real people, not just foils who are always gone at convenient moments. The friends are real, fleshed out, and the girls talk about more than just boys.
Food. There are so many smells and tastes in The Problem With Forever. I wanted to eat and drink all of the things.*Reality. The kids talked how kids actually talk. Kids actually went to class and realistically worried about their school work and their futures. Neighborhoods aren't just "bad" or "good," but full of people.
Anxiety. It isn't that anxiety is good, but the way it's presented is spot on. Mallory deals with a lot of anxiety and I feel it's treated honestly. She struggles with simply finding the courage to say words to people. I understood this anxiety well, and it always rang true to me. My chest felt as tight as hers did. She wants to stay hidden and quiet, but she also wants to be brave and speak out.
Boys. Yes, I know the boys are also characters, but this is also a YA romance and I just want to say I approve of all the boys (except for possibly Ainsley's boyfriend, who is always off-stage). Even if they are all. so. incredibly. gorgeous. I don't know if Jennifer L Armentrout knows how to write a boy who isn't gorgeous.
Plot. I consumed this book in a day. Like, I tried to get up and go do other things, but I kept coming back for more. I found out how to fold laundry and read a book at the same time. It made me smile, it made me sigh, and yes, I cried.
Plot. I liked so much about the story, I love how the characters grow and become more than they started out as, but I can't help but feeling that a lot of things happened just for the growth of the main character. And I get it--Mallory is the main character for a reason, right?--but I still feel like some of the plot points may be a little cheap?
Pitting girls against each other. Rider has a girlfriend when Mallory comes back into his life, and right away Paige and Mallory are at odds, and Paige is particularly nasty. Obviously Rider and Mallory are going to end up together (I mean, I know this may technically be a spoiler, but I don't think anyone would be surprised.) I don't know what's gained by him having this girlfriend to begin with, other than to set up some ready-made enemy for Mallory. And, really, there's more than enough going on in this book. Also I think it's time to give readers more.
Repetition. Much of the writing is gorgeous. Mallory's inner-life is rich and I love how she thinks about things. I also understand that she's working through things, and working through things takes time. But The Problem With Forever is a looong book, and I'm not sure it was all necessary.
Should You Read It? If you're a sucker for an angsty tale with sweet romance, and like to cry, then absolutely. There is nothing particularly surprising about this story, but it's totally engrossing. 4 Stars
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 1, 2016