The Problem with Forever
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published May 17th 2016
by Harlequin Teen
Mallory learned the hard way that silence protects. Four years later “Mouse” returns to mainstream high school for her senior year after the sheltering care of her adoptive parents. There she meets Rider the boy who was her voice during those terrifying years in foster care. While she knows they both have grown up and are no longer those children she begins to realize she’s not the only one who hasn’t forgotten their connection.
I totally got sucked into this lovely and beautiful contemporary romance! At 23% I wrote: “I figured I better stop reading and put up my thoughts…this is so good, wow! I’m totally shipping these two. I love Mallory, I know she’s not the badass most like to read about but I love what she is struggling with and the effort she is making. It would be so easy to slide back into how things were with Rider in the past but she is trying not to allow that…” Yeah I zipped through to this point in one sitting! It is very compelling and I lay that all at Mallory’s feet. She is dealing with a block that she has worked with a therapist on, trying to get to a healthy mental state. The exploration of how she has to overcome the trauma of her youth that wrote in her brain she must not make a sound is so compelling and I felt her struggle each step of the way!
“I was not going to rain on my own wow, because talking to new people was hard for me. Like as hard as it would be for someone to walk naked into class.”
Everyone feels like they are not normal enough at one time or another so I really relate to Mallory’s feelings… also when she can’t get words out or doesn’t have time to formulate what to say and the moment passes. It’s not that she doesn’t have personality but that it’s hard to push outside herself. So relatable to me and the kind of character that I am a sucker for when they are done as well as Mouse!
There is some strong family here! I loved her adoptive parents and how imperfect them were. Carl and Rosa lost their daughter and its hard for them not to see Mallory as a replacement dream follower. *Some kids who are adopted need to see this kind of interaction where its not just them that don’t get along with adoptive parents and that there can be middle ground formed between them and the people who raised them. (*I knew several adopted kids who struggled.) I absolutely loved this aspect of the story and how Mom took one tactic and Dad took a different position but that it was out of love for their daughter. I also enjoyed how Mallory struggled with wanting to lie to her parents to limit their censure but that hard won trust saved the day. Really all teenagers could deal with reading this example of parental interaction!
This is not overtly diverse in that it radiates diversity through culture so much as it touches on it. There is a large group of Hispanic characters that populate this story from Carl and Rosa to Rider and his own adopted family (Hector and Jayden). Living in South Texas I can say that Rider and his family’s situation is not unusual and can be quite heartbreaking. It’s not limited to race but is definitely different from some households in America.
The secondary characters rock it! Paige worked for me even though she played an almost classic rendition of the mean girl / ex-girlfriend! It worked here because the “Mouse” part of Mallory needed to be pushed on an intimate level separate from Rider. Ainsley and Hector, oh how I love thee!! Wow, such good best friends. I loved how Ainsley was homeschooled too and yet almost the total opposite of Mallory. And Hector, its always the good ones that affect us the most, Rider was so lucky to get him as a “brother!” I was totally shipping Hector and Ainsley… And Jayden the little troublemaker that doesn’t realize when he is in it up to the neck totally won you over like he’d done with Rider and Mallory.
Last but not least is Rider. He seems to have come out the other side of his trauma free of any lingering mental difficulties… such is not true. He is still the selfless, protective and loyal boy she grew up with but he has serious worth issues. This time it wasn’t the girl who needed strengthening but the boy…
BOTTOM LINE: A totally re-readable romance that speaks to the heart about how love is supposed to strengthen us!
The conversations between Mallory and the people in her life really struck me as so natural and affecting! The focus was where it should be – on Mallory trying to work through the effects of her past trauma. And Rider’s own trauma helped her to deal with her own – that is what love is!! It’s allowing others to make us stronger, better and more happy. The storycraft is this book is amaaazing! This isn’t a perfect book, it is a little predictable, but this is one of those books that rises above its stereotype because of it’s specific and intimate emotional journey.