The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout is a contemporary novel which follows main character Mallory (or ‘Mouse’) Dodge as she learns the boy who was her only protector as a child in a foster home were they both suffered abuse is attending her new high school. After a particularly bad incident when they are both 13 Mallory is badly burnt and is subsequently pulled out of her foster house and is then adopted by the burns doctor who oversaw her treatment. But Mallory never found out what exactly became of Rider, the boy who always made sure he was the one in the firing line of their foster father’s physical abuse.
Years later and Mallory and her adoptive parents, Carl and Rosa, decide that Mallory should try and integrate herself with other teens and learn to better communicate with other people if she wants to leave for college the next year. It’s at the last period of a stressful day that Mallory walks into her Speech class (which she is already worried about as it is) and sees the all too familiar face of Rider sitting in the seat next the one she’s been allotted.
Mallory and Rider learn to overcome the many barriers in their way, which include social class, race and Mallory’s parents in order to truly discuss the horrors of their childhood with the only other person who could really understand; each other.
When I think contemporary, perhaps unfairly, I think ‘quick cute read’. Maybe thats all I’ cut out for when it comes to contemporary books, I always have been more of a fantasy person. Because of this this book just work for me.
Yes. I had a Problem with The Problem with Forever.
First of this book is quite big.It’s not mammoth or anything, it’s not even the biggest book I’ve read in the last 5 weeks, but it is almost 500 pages, which I consider to be quite long for a contemporary.
I knew going into this that this wasn’t going to be all cutesy and cuddly because of the dark subject matter, and I liked the way Armentrout handled it, but for almost 5oo pages I never really got attached to any of the characters like I would have expected. This book to me felt a little like a sad made for tv movie, with a Romeo and Juliet feel (thats not a spoiler, I promise no one will kill themselves in this book), two lovers kept apart by family and crime.
This is another one of the Problems I had with The Problem with Forever
(and minor spoilers ahead, you can skip this part if you want, head to the ‘minor spoilers over part’ it’s not a that crucial part of the story but I thought I would warn you guys)
the way Armentrout uses her Latino characters I felt was just a little too stereotypical. Rider, a boy whose heritage we never really find out beyond his tanned skin, is currently living with a Latino family. The two brother he lived with are great characters, and we see a depth of emotion in them, but Armentrout has them involved in some mysterious crime which even though it takes Mallory a long time to cotton on, we as the reader can tell whats happening from very early on. But why? Like they are from ‘the wrong part of town’ and they are involved in ‘things you shouldn’t be involved in’. Mallory is even told by the Principal of her school that she ‘is not the kind of girl to be involving herself with a boy like him [Rider]’ and it just seemed so forced.
Arguably Armentrout is good to her Latino characters by making them likeable people, and by also including Rosa (Mallory’s well meaning adoptive mother) who is a very successful surgeon as well as being Mexican, but I was still uncomfortable with the whole thing. I would love to hear a Latinx’s opinion on this book and whether it was an unfair representation or not, because obviously I am not the right person to say whether this was unfair or not.
(minor spoiler section over)
Overall none of the characters really made me care for them all that much, the story was predictable, it was about 150 pages too long, I was uncomfortable with some elements and even though I did fly through it I really had to force myself to finish it because I just wasn’t gripped.
I want to say that this is my own personal opinion, lots of people loved this book and if you did too thats great, it’s not a reflection on you as a person. I’m giving this book a 2.5/5 ice creams however, and it would have been 2 if I hadn’t liked the writing style as much as I did.