Title: The problem with forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
published by: Harlequin Teen
Released: May 17th 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Where to find it: Amazon
Synopsis: 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.
It’s difficult for me to write this review because it is a lot easier to be carried by the enthusiasm that generates from a book you really love, instead of having to explain why a book didn’t convince you.
I would like to start from what I liked about “the problem with forever”. It’s a beautiful love story and the background that the author used is peculiar, it talks about the foster families and the teenagers they host. It’s a difficult topic but she described it without overstating or, on the contrary, trivializing it. She presents the problem of the lack of money and social workers to monitor the families, and this gives a hard time to the teenagers that didn’t find a family that adopt them. A thorny topic that can easily lead to banality but, instead, it was treated with knowledge.
Armentrout’s writing style helped a lot with that because it’s consistent, not too much flamboyant but rich enough on the description without being rambling. She is very good at avoiding to be boring especially given the lack of dialogues, since the main character has problems regarding speaking and relating with people. I particularly liked the way she describes emotions, she has a way to write them that makes you understand exactly the confusion and the thrill of the moment. “It was exhilarating and frightening. It was beautiful and messy” those are the perfect words to describe what it means to a girl to be kissed for the first time, contrasting feelings that make you live the thrill.
I adored Jayden character, even if he was just outlined but, in the end, he is really relevant for the story. He is sweet, attentive, reckless, fragile and fearless at the same time; he is the only one that really acts like a real teenager.
Now it comes the most difficult part, the one where I explain why this book didn’t get me. As I already said for Jayden, the secondary characters are just outlined and not analyzed, we have just a hint of their background and it’s difficult to understand their behavior. Paige, Rosa and Carl should, for different reasons, oppose Mallory but they are actually weak and not convincing. There is a huge difference from the importance gave to the two main characters and the secondary ones; the latter seem to be just “episodes” on the main character’s life that are useful to move on with the plot without a real contextualization. Some classmate are introduced in a way that let you suppose they have key roles in the story but, in the end, they are just a way to let you know what is going on in the school, without other purposes. Ainsley, Mallory’s best friend, appears only as if she was her conscience, their encounters are helpful just to justify Mallory’s behavior and they end in themselves.
Another thing that irritated me are the cliché situations that I can expect in a fanfiction, not in a book that I buy in a bookstore. One example is when Rider asks Mallory “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
I found it too childish and not realistic. I can expect this kind of question from a ten years old, not from someone who is almost eighteen. Another part that really annoyed me is when Mallory catches Rider and Paige asleep on the couch just to give her the excuse to run away. I found banal this obstacle for their relationship, overused on fanfiction, let alone on a book; besides, this expedient is not even a major problem for their relationship. It raises some doubts in Mallory’s head but nothing that a good talk and a blind trust in him can’t solve. The most of the time I thought that I was reading something about two forty years old, not teenagers.
Actually avery situation in this book is solved in an easy way, without too much drama and the characters are weak. Paige should be the antagonist, the love rival, the mean girl of the school, but in reality, apart from a couple of menacing conversations, she gives up without a fight. There is not even a hint of competition and the explanation that she gives for her surrender is so rational and logic that it doesn’t even leave any space for doubt. For this very reason I found it unrealistic: a though, strong, seventeen years old, used to standing up for herself, would fight for her boyfriend even in with foul play if necessary, she would never give up after just saying “stay away from my boyfriend”. I found it a completely unrealistic behavior since she is introduced in the book as the strong girl.
The other part of the love triangle is Rider, a guy that Mallory sees as the knight in shining armor, but is more than clear for everyone that he is a boy that never overcame his childhood problems and that has no idea how to become an adult. The thing that seemed forced to me is that he gave up on everything to be with Mallory in the exact moment he meets her up again and no one around him found it weird, not even his friends. When Mallory realizes, in the end, that he is not the Prince Charming that she always dreamed, she is so mean with him that it takes my breath away.
She shoves in his face a reality that would break the most self confident man and she does it right after she decided to be there for him. Such decision is contradicted by her behavior because her speech doesn’t leave the slightest crack of hope for him, especially when she slams the door on his face. At this surreal moment follows his inexplicable reaction that leads him to her again. This is inexplicable because she never shows a capacity to fix what she has done, or better, the part that should do that in the book, the speech in front of the class, is something she does for herself, not for him. Indeed, she is pissed off, when he walks away at the end of class without telling her, not because she thinks she failed with her apology to him, but because he doesn’t congratulate with her for giving her speech in front of everyone, for overcoming her biggest fear.
The book has a good potential, the background of the story is not banal and makes sense, the real problem of those pages, the thing that didn’t drag me into the story, is the behavior of the characters which I found unrealistic. I don’t know if it’s because their background is superficial – at least for the secondary characters – or because they simply think like middle aged men instead of teenagers, but I couldn’t relate with them. I had the constant feeling that the things that Mallory think – the fact that she has problems speaking and relating with people – are an end in themselves. Her behavior, her way to react to the situations is completely normal for a teenager. In some case, she is way more confident than a lot of people who share her same background, I would have had a lot of more problems in walking into that high school for the first time. She has such a smooth beginning that the two minor breakdown she had, were almost derisory.
Do I suggest this book? If you want something romantic with a happy ending, Rider and Mallory’s story is something you have to read, because it seems a fairytale. You just need to ignore the feeling that something big is going to happen because it won’t happen in the end.
2 on 5
Reviewed by Erika