Hi, and thanks for stopping by.
Today's review is of Jennifer L. Armentrout's The Problem with Forever, a book I hauled post-Christmas. I don't know why I left it so long to read this, but I did, and as soon as I started it, I knew it should've been waaay further up on my January reads list. This book is a beautiful story about Mallory (or Mouse) and her best friend from childhood, Rider. From the outset I want to say I couldn't recommend this book more, I loved it.
(P.S. How GORGEOUS is this cover! Tricky to place on the rainbow shelves, though!)
"Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it didn't really exist."
As I said above, this story follows Mallory principally, as she reunites with her childhood best friend Rider. The two met in foster care, and Rider was a protector of sorts for Mallory against their abusive foster parents. When finally these horrible people were brought to justice, their foster children were separated, Mallory gets taken in by two lovely doctors and she and Rider drift apart. When Mallory is finally ready to start high school, she's pretty surprised to see Rider there and to learn about his life since they were children.
"I learned that even monsters could have a positive impact."
Mallory was a really lovely protagonist to read; she was sweet, insecure and damaged, but I loved how genuine her narrative voice felt. I don't know exactly how to describe her speaking issues (is it a speech impediment, stutter? I'm not 100% sure), but her pain and mortification were palpable. It was heartwarming to see how much better she could speak to her foster parents and Rider, knowing that meant she trusted and loved them, and I was so happy for her when she began to be able to speak to people such as Hector, Keira and Jayden.
"Forever was simply a promise of more. Forever was a work in progress. And I couldn't wait for forever."
Speaking of those three, the rich development of secondary characters (and their storylines) is one of the most successful, rare and lovely aspects of this novel. Hector, Keira, Jayden and Ainsley are all Mallory's friends (Ainsley is already established as her best friend, whilst the other three are relationships in progress throughout the story), and they are so vivid and imaginable. A real flaw with so much fiction is a total tunnel vision approach; your protagonist and their love interest can be wonderful, but if every other single character is bland and boring, what's the use? Jennifer does a brilliant job at making you love these smaller role characters just as much as her main two. Paige was also a really interesting character to me. In a lot of ways I suppose she might be the quintessential, mean girl cliche, but Jennifer manages to stop that from totally being the case. She isn't super rich, super spoilt and privileged - she too has had a hard life, and whilst that doesn't excuse her behaviour, at least we see a human side of her (we even see her in sadness and in pain - so rare for your typical antagonist characters). In particular, Jayden and Ainsley's individual storylines were SO highly appreciated.
"Life can be all too brief."
Time to take a minute to talk about Jayden. Now, if you don't want spoilers LOOK AWAY RIGHT THIS SECOND!!! Right, don't say I didn't warn you. I honestly could not believe how his story ended up. I was heartbroken! He's such a funny, flirtatious, vivacious character, so for him to be gone by the end of the book was such a loss, and yet I completely understand why Jennifer chose to do it and I think it's one of the, if the not the most, effective parts of the book. Watching the pain and grief ripple through the characters, family or friends, afterwards was incredibly difficult - I really commend her for her handling of such difficult topics throughout this book (grief, drugs, abuse, mental health, violence).
"We've been separated. But we had never really been apart."
The friendship and (spoiler!) romance between Mallory and Rider is written beautifully, too. I love that it takes a way for their relationship to develop into something romantic, because it's so much more realistic that way! In fact, I'd go as far to say that I preferred reading their relationship in the first half of the book, before things turned around for them after kissing, although the second half was wonderful, too.
"Forever was knowing moments of weakness didn't equate to an eternity of them."
The biggest compliment I can give this book is I read the first half in one evening and then spent the entire rest of the next day looking forward to reading the second half. I couldn't wait to finish it! And that's always a good sign. It's just such a beautiful story, with a really satisfying ending, great character development, unique and individual style, impossibly sad moments, funny moments, too. I would HIGHLY recommend it - it's SO worth a read. I'm excited to discover more from this author in the future!! Let me know if you've read this already - what did you think?
"It was me who had to carry myself over the finish line."
Till next week