The Problem with Forever
by: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
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.
Mallory grew up in the system. From a young age she’s been “conditioned” to be as quiet as possible and not draw any attention to herself. Mainly because she she did, her foster dad would get angry and beat her. Well, more accurately, the boy who was also fostered in that house would be beaten because he’d draw the man away from her and take the brunt of the punishment herself. She spent a very long time in their care and it wasn’t until one day, when Mallory was severely burned, that authorities stepped in and took the kids away. Mallory was fortunate enough that the doctor who treated her at the hospital formed an attachment with her and he and his wife wound up adopting her. It took Mallory four years of therapy and homeschooling to feel like she’s ready to go out in the world and attend a real school. The last thing she expected when she sat down in class was to have the boy from her old foster home, who always protected her, to sit right next to her.
Mallory was a character that had a flight over fight reaction. Anytime anything became to hard or uncomfortable, she took off. Whether it was at school or at home that would be her first instinct. Which, given the way she grew up and the fact that she’s only been out of the system for four years makes sense. However, thankfully, over time we start to see her assert herself and go out of her way to interact with others than she normally would have. So, I was happy to see some progression with her character.
The story is written is Mallory’s point of view but Rider is a huge part of the story. Not only is he the boy from her past who protected her, but he’s the boy of her present and future as well. Once they meet that first day at school, the two of them are inseparable, and the main reason for that is Rider. The moment he sees Mallory again he latches onto her. I mean, here’s this boy who had the girl he took care of and looked out for, ripped away from him and no one would tell him where she was and if she was okay. So, imagine how his world gets flipped upside down when the little girl who he felt he’d let down, shows up at his school. Not only that but she is beautiful, living with a good family, and while she’s still as quiet as ever, she’s living a life. Needless to say, Rider doesn’t just say, “Hey, sup?” and leave it at that. No, he pretty much attaches himself to her.
While I did feel like the romance overshadowed some of the darker issues going on in the book, from a romance standpoint, it was a adorable. Watching these two reconnect and interact with the more grown-up version of the kid they knew was cute. However, I wish there was more of the struggles in the book. I mean, Rider used to run drugs but it’s only briefly talked about. His foster brother currently runs drugs and Rider shows up bleeding a busted up from confronting people on his step-brother’s behalf. Not to mention all the nightmares that surface with her rekindling relationship with Rider. I wish the author had paid more attention to those things and dove into the characters a little deeper instead of being more of a drama-based afterthought. I mean, I guess I just felt like they were given these problems just to make the story interesting. Maybe if we got to go with Mallory to a therapist session, or maybe witness some things that Rider dealt with and dove a little deeper on why he felt unworthy of anyone’s time I’d feel a deeper connection with them and would understand their quirks a bit more.
The Problem with Forever was a super sweet story about two very abused kids that were dealt a crappy hand in the foster system, who find each other later in life. I loved getting to watch Mallory open up more and become a bit more dependent and outspoken. I loved watching these two rekindle their relationship and try to piece each other together after all they went through. However, I feel like this book had a lot of potential to be a more deeper and complex story with meaningful undertones. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the angsty romance, I just thought this could have gone above and beyond if it toned down the romance a bit and focused on their problems a bit more.
“Use your words.
That mantra contradicted everything I’d been taught for nearly thirteen years, because words equaled noise, and noise was rewarded with fear and violence.”