Title: The Problem With Forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Fiction/ Romance
Favourite Quote: “I grinned at him, and when he chuckled, another strange thing happened. I shivered. I wasn’t cold, actually quiet the opposite.
Our gazes collided, and dammit, it was like suddenly being thirteen again, sneaking food in a world that was just Rider and me, except we were older now, and it wasn’t just him and me against the world. I wasn’t a little girl. He wasn’t a boy. And back then he’d been… We’ll, he had been mine. It wasn’t like that now.’
I discovered The Problem with Forever in the bestsellers list as a recommendation. I hadn’t heard of this book before so I wasn’t sure what it was about. I decided to just read it before looking at the back or any reviews connected to it.
I have to say, the story took me by surprise. I wasn’t sure what I was really expecting but I was overall very pleased with my little find.
The story prologue beings with a young girl desperately hiding in a closet, her ‘safe place’ from Mr Henry, after she accidentally knocked an ashtray off the side in an attempt to get some food. A young boy finds her in the closet and gives her her doll ‘Velvet’ that she dropped in a hurry to comfort her with a promise that he will come back to her and read her favourite story as long as she stayed there and kept quiet. ‘Don’t make a sound’
4 years later, we find out that the young girl hiding in the closet is now our teenage protagonist, Mallory Dodge. A very quiet, recently homeschooled girl who decides it’s time to go to public school and have a normal life to overcome her fears. Her difficult past has affected her in many ways, including her ability to talk. Being silent was the means for survival back in the old house where she grew up, she is determined to put the past behind her and start fresh.
‘”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. Used to equal those things, but not anymore. I hadn’t spent nearly four years in intensive therapy only to not use my words, and Rosa and Carl hadn’t dedicated every moment of their free time to erasing a past full of nightmares only to watch their efforts fail.
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. ‘
Mallory does everything to make sure her first day at Lands High isn’t too much of a challenge by making sure she knows the layout of the school off my heart so she doesn’t need to try and ask for directions. When one of her classmates, Keira, begins a conversation, Mallory feels particularly accomplished when she is able answer her question, but she soon panics in the lunch hall being surrounded by so many people at once and runs to a quiet place.
Panic sets in again when she heads to speech class, a class she is determined to pass but isn’t quiet ready for, especially when she discovers that the handsome guy sitting next to her is non other than the young boy who used to protect her as a child, Rider Stark.
‘I stopped breathing. My brain couldn’t perceive what I was seeing. It did not compute. I stared up at him, really saw him, saw a face that was familiar yet new to me, more mature than I remembered but still achingly beautiful. I knew him. Oh my God, I would know him anywhere, even if it had been four years and the last time I’d seen him, that last night that had been so horrible, had changed my life forever.’
With Rider back in Mallory’s life again, she finds it difficult to escape the nightmares that reappear from their past. More determined than ever to get past her previous life to become the new confident person she craves to be, both herself and Rider try and create a new life together but can’t help but remember what had happened to them years ago. From previous instincts, Rider can’t help put feel protective of Mallory, his Mouse, and Mallory can’t help but feel like she needs protecting.
‘Talking was hard for a whole different reason. “I need… I need to handle things by myself.”
Rider’s brows knitted as he stared at me like I spoke an unfamiliar language. “Why?”
“Why?” I sputtered. “Because I need to do that for myself. You can’t… step in every time you think something happens. You can’t always… protect me”
“But I want to,” he said, his voice low again. Smooth
My heart was jumping around in my chest. “You can’t.”
One side of his lips curled up. He kept my hand against his chest. “It’s kind of an old habit to break”.
Those lashes lifted again and his stare pierced me. “You… you need to try.”
Rider appears to be very confident and, well, normal considering all he went through with her, Mallory can’t help but feel even worse for the fact that the past affects her so much. Little does she know how much Rider keeps to himself and the barrier he has surrounded himself in. It’s up to Mallory to help Rider overcome his past, for once she has to be the stronger person.
The story is great and the characters are really well written. It’s easy to understand Mallory’s frustration when trying to be ‘normal’ but finds it incredibly difficult around anyone but Rider and her best friend Ainsley. Whilst it’s sad that Rider just essentially bins off his girlfriend Paige for Mallory, it’s clear that he’s been almost waiting for Mallory to come back into his life which is probably why he’s been holding back being intimate with Paige. His protectiveness of Mallory makes you fall in love with him, even with his frustrating inability to see any worth in himself.
When Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.