The Problem with Forever made me remember what it was like to fall in love the first time and all the intense feelings you have as a teenager. This YA contemporary tackles a lot of hard topics but in a very appropriate way for a young adult book. This is a story about Mallory, a girl who overcomes a living nightmare and discovers the strength within.
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult • Contemporary
Version: Hardback (480 pages)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (May 17, 2016)
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
“I didn’t like to make unnecessary noises.”
The Problem with Forever tackles some very tough subjects like child abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, PTSD, the foster care system, gang-related crimes, etc. but does so in such an appropriate but still realistic way. I think often times when an author attempts to address these types of issues, they can often go overboard with graphic scenes, however I think Armentrout had the perfect approach to tackling these types of topics in a young adult book. Instead of going into explicit descriptions of the abuse, Armentrout instead focuses on the emotional aftermath that ensued.
I found Mallory to be such a wonderful character. I think this was a very accurate portrayal of someone who experiences PTSD after undergoing years upon years of physical/mental abuse and neglect. My heart broke for Mallory. She had been so conditioned to not speak or draw unwanted attention to herself, that after her living hell was over, it still took years to start undoing the damage. I think this was a very important point to make, that just because the abuse is over, does not mean the psychological toll on that person is over. Victims of abuse and neglect often struggle for years after, and some will struggle for the rest of their lives. At the beginning of this book, Mallory is still in a relatively fragile state, however by the end she has achieved a tremendous amount of personal growth. What I loved most about this book was watching Mallory find her inner strength and realize that she didn’t need anyone to rescue her, but that she could rescue herself.
Rider was another wonderful part of this book. Fiercely protective of Mallory, Rider would do anything for her, including putting himself in harm’s way for her. I felt that Rider’s development was also very well done. I thought it was very believable for a teenaged boy that has undergone years of abuse to put up a front that everything was fine and that he didn’t need help. Unfortunately, I think this is often the case for boys who suffer from abuse who may feel societal pressures to “suck it up” or simply “get over it.” Like Mallory, Rider also makes tremendous growth throughout the book.
I thought the romance is this book was very well done. It really took me back to my own memories of falling in love for the first time at 17… that uncertainty if the other person feels the same way, the first date, the first time holding hands, the first kiss… There really isn’t anything like it, and I think Armentrout captured the essence of young love perfectly.
There was one or two hiccups with this book, but nothing that distracted me overmuch. There was one loose end in particular that bothered me, which was in regards to Mallory’s BFF. I can’t exactly say what isn’t wrapped up, but if you have read this book you should know what I am talking about. It was almost as if the problem was introduced, then forgotten… I either think this issue should have been omitted, or developed further. Other than that, I think this was a very well done YA contemporary.
“Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it really didn’t exist.”
“We’ve been separated. But we had never really been apart.”
About the Author:
# 1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories…which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance.