The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 17th, 2016
Pages: 480
Song I Played While Reading: For What It's Worth by Kygo
Rating: 4.5 stars

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 homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone- spending her senior year at a 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 lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider's life spiral out of control, Mallory must make 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'm a huge, huge fan of Armentrout's Lux series. I haven't read any of her other work, but I have some on my TBR, and this was one I definitely couldn't miss. I was lucky enough to attend BEA (here's my recap if anyone is interested) and I managed to snag a ticket for her signing event at the Harlequin booth. I knew, from the moment I read the prologue, that I was a goner. The Problem with Forever was absolutely astounding, with Armentrout's knack for writing authentic, likable characters.
I was a little worried about Mallory, since I can find characters who struggle to speak up for themselves a little aggravating. But, as I should have expected, I had absolutely no issues with her (except for a small thing near the end, but it was inconsequential in the grande scheme of this book). The engaging and detailed writing really opened up Mallory in a way that some authors struggle to do, and I think that's what really did it for me. I was able to fully understand why Mallory struggled with speaking, for both obvious and personal reasons. Obvious because we learn about her past, and personal because when I was younger, I struggled with speaking up for myself. I still do sometimes, but I've definitely grown more assertive, which is why I can get annoyed with characters who let people walk all over them. Life is too short for that, and I absolutely adored Mallory's character arc. It was slow-going, and definitely painful at times, but she did it. I was so incredibly proud of her.
It's obvious from page one how important Rider is, and oh my LANTA, could I have cried the second him and Mallory reunited. This slow burning romance killed me. Seriously. Not only was it deliciously, innocently steamy (is that even a thing??), but Rider himself was an actual angel sent down from heaven. I have a soft spot for protective guys, and Rider is the epitome of a selfless white knight. He would do or say anything for Mallory, and it hurt me so deeply. That kind of thing is unheard of today, so I think I've officially resigned myself to living alone for the rest of my life with 3 dogs and my own little library. He was constantly touching Mallory: tucking her hair behind her ears, playing with her fingers, hugging her, rubbing her arms. He made sure she ate her food, always held doors open for her, offered to skip his class period to sit with her at lunch everyday, threatened to beat up anyone that was upsetting her, and was just there. 24/7. I'm turning into a giant mushy, teary puddle just thinking about it. Rider Stark has stolen my heart, god dammit.
Armentrout's writing is stunning in The Problem with Forever, and since this is hunky 480 page book, she got to dive deep into every aspect of life: first love, friendship, death, family relations, finding your voice, and overcoming your fears. There are undertones of sadness in here, which always tug at my heartstrings and make me want to hug the book to my chest. I definitely struggle with hopeless moments in my life, and being able to tap into that feeling, into that feeling of being stuck, made me connect on a whole different level with the characters. No matter how someone may appear on the outside, you never know what they're going through on the inside.
I LOVED the diversity in here. I absolutely gobbled it up. My high school was in an area that was primarily Hispanic, and reading about Hector and Jayden speaking and swearing at each other in Spanish made me feel incredibly homesick. I even read some of what they said in some of my classmate's voices, since they would teach me some stuff in class that was hilariously similar to what Hector said. I adored those two, and appreciated Armentrout for bringing to light the issues they struggled with out of school. I've led an incredibly privileged life, but I definitely noticed, and felt the repercussions, of some of the things people would do to get money. It never fails to break my heart.
With Mallory's undeniable courage, Rider's selfless and caring nature, and the ties that bonded these two, including the strength from their families, The Problem with Forever is a contemporary novel that everyone should give a chance. Brace yourself though; it's a heartbreaker.

"Words weren't the problem. They flew through my head like a flock of birds migrating south for the winter. Words were never the problem. I had them, always had them, but it was plucking the words out and putting a voice to them that had always been tricky."

"His eyes searched mine. "I just told her that you are important to me and since I never thought I'd have you back in my life, I didn't want anything or anyone messing with that. She understands."
"Understands what?" I whispered.
Rider's gaze held mine again. "She understands that if I have to pick between you two, it's not going to be her."

"Rider was patient through the whole thing, which pretty much raised him to saint status, because who seriously wanted to listen to me pause and stutter through an informative speech about a dozen times. Someone could record it and Satan could play it over and over, on an endless loops, to torture people in hell."

"Forever was something we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it really didn't exist."

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