A Read & Review Club Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout

The CHB Read & Review Club is for educators and students who enjoy reading and would like to share the joy of reading with others through reviewing and recommending books. As a bookshop, we often receive special review copies of books in advance of their release dates so that we can review them. However, since we can only read so many books and we value the thoughts and opinions of other readers, CHB is recruiting educators and students to read and review advance reader copies (or arcs) of books that we receive, and we'll post their reviews on the Cavalier House Books website via the Read & Review Club Blog!

Emily B. (19) is a Read & Review Club member, and she has written a review of The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout!

From the publisher marketing: 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 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 outfor the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

Check out what Emily has to say about the book:

The Problem with Forever is the kind of book that you’re going to be tempted to keep re-reading. It’s not just a story about a teenage girl trying to put her life back together after experiencing extensive childhood trauma., it’s about loss and second chances. It’s about how difficult the path to recovery is and how much the path varies from person to person. It’s about the supportive but somewhat stunted and unsure relationship of the main character with her adoptive parents. It’s about the difficulty of conducting yourself in social situations while suffering from social anxiety and fear of ridicule. It’s about the importance of finding a good support system in your friends and family. It’s about finding how to have a healthy relationship with a person, while dealing with trauma and mental illness. But perhaps most importantly, it’s about finding your voice when it has previously been taken from you.

Although Mallory Dodge, the main character, is the voice of the narrative, the story goes beyond her path to recovery. Throughout the book, you see the influence she has on Rider Stark, the boy who protected her as a child, and how they help each other through the trauma of their shared past. You see the evolution of her relationship with her adoptive parents, Carl and Rosa, from that of a girl who feels indebted, slightly anxious, and like an ill-suited replacement, to their daughter, who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. You see the positive influence that her friends Keira, Ainsley, and Jayden have on her, just by being friendly and accepting towards her for who she is. You even see how Rider’s ex-girlfriend Paige, though a negative presence in her life, pushes her towards finding the courage to defend herself. 

The book deals with heavy subjects such as child abuse and neglect, PTSD, social anxiety, death, gang violence, victim blaming, and yes, even sexuality, in such a way that the reader is introduced to them, and is able to take away a better understanding. Armentrout treats these subjects with the respect and seriousness they deserve, giving enough detail for understanding of the narrative, while leaving enough to the imagination that the reader can draw their own conclusions and opinions.

The Problem with Forever is wonderfully heartbreaking, yet hopeful, and I would definitely recommend it to, well, anyone.

Thanks to Emily for her review!