Review: The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My Thoughts

A sizzling romance with all the feels—
an evocative story about friendship, love and survival.

4halfstars

Synopsis

May-17 ★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 out–for the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

My Review

Jennifer L. Armentrout tackles big issues with a moving story about friendship, love, courage and overcoming the kind of past that scars beneath the surface. With The Problem With Forever, she’s taken her singular style of storytelling to places she’s not yet explored while still delivering a sizzling romance with off-the-charts chemistry. Tender moments accentuate the tragic underpinning from which the protagonists’ lives have been built from—a past riddled with abuse, days paralyzed by fear, and a stubborn sense of unworthiness that has followed two foster kids over the years.

“He was only six months older than her six years, but he always seemed so much bigger, older than her, because in her eyes, he took up her entire world.”

Mallory Dodge and Rider Stark grew up in a foster home where fear, alcohol, drug use and violence were everyday things they saw and experienced. They held on to each other to survive their childhood, in particular, Rider shielded Mallory as best he could. He took the blows, literally and figuratively, so that she would be okay. Mallory learned to keep quiet—sounds had awful repercussions.

“I promised I’d keep you safe forever. Just don’t make a sound.”

One day, everything went wrong and the situation escalated, separating Mallory and Rider when they were both removed from the home.

Years pass without contact. Mallory is adopted by two kind, wealthy physicians who help her heal, but she’s got a long way to go. After years of home schooling, she pushes herself to attend public high school in efforts to take the next, brave step in shedding the shackles of her past.

She never expected to see the boy who’d saved her time and again—Rider Stark.

“…the promise of forever had been shattered, and everything… everything had fallen apart.”

After four years apart, their emotional ties easily tangle back together, but it becomes clear their lives have followed divergent paths. Rider didn’t fall into the kind of life that Mallory found, and instead has toed a dangerous line.

While their connection pushes them together, insecurities, fears and new dynamics makes things more complicated. Mallory fears she can’t overcome her issues, she realizes she can’t depend on Rider to always make things right.

“You can’t … step in every time you think something happens. You can’t always… protect me.”

But as Rider’s life begins to spin out of control, Mallory realizes the seemingly confident Rider bears scars of his own which can threaten everything between them.

“I know you deserve better, but I want to be better. I want to be that for you.”

I loved this book! I loved the multiracial characters, the exploration of meaningful issues, the blazing, unstoppable chemistry between Mallory and Rider, and the many moving moments in their story. Jennifer’s irresistible wit is still woven here and there, as well as a healthy dose of tension to offer a softening counterpoint to the story’s more serious themes. Well balanced, emotive and painfully real, The Problem With Forever is a gripping novel that shouldn’t be missed.

“We have a second chance. And who gets second chances?”

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