Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Problem With Forever By: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Ya'll this book... Oh this book. I have so so much to say about it. So be ready ;)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting new story about friendship, survival and finding your voice 
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.

I'm absolutely speechless after this one ya'll.
Only two other books that I can remember have ever affected me in a similar way as this one has. I knew it was going to be one of those books that I would just be pretty floored by from the description (which I only briefly read because, hey it’s a JLA book and do you really need a description to know it will be good?) and the early chatter about it. But never did I imagine exactly what this book was going to be like when I fully got into it.

Ya'll know me by now... I'm always going on about how unemotional I am, and that things don't really get to me easily blah blah blah.
But this book...
THREE times! I repeat THREE times! Had me in tears or on the brink of them. And the first time wasn't any more than three to four pages into the prologue.

I'm not going to pretend like I can relate to Mallory in all ways. I had a decent childhood; it had problems but nothing even close to what this character experienced in this book. I don't have problems speaking my thoughts or even just getting words out in general. Most of the time it's actually the complete opposite actually, and I say way more than my brain even has time to process.
My family may not be perfect, and maybe even a little broken, but I will never actually be able to fully relate to Mallory. And for that I'm grateful.
But does that mean I can't imagine everything her character goes through? Does it mean I can't be heart broken and empathize with her?
While my life story is much different from this one, it brought out a lot of emotions I tend to forget I have that make me a normal sympathetic human.

This whole story though, start to finish, had this heart-wrenchingly beautiful quality about it.
I was so broken hearted for Mallory and Rider, but also many other characters in the story along the way as well.
But I also feel like this so so important lesson was being etched on the pages as well. In the spaces between all that heart and heart break.

There was love... And acceptance... and this notion of how important second chances are... And how maybe... maybe realizing you’re the broken one too but can still be fixed is in all of us.

Tomorrow isn't guaranteed or even promised to any one of us. And I think that is one of the most important things to take away from this book.
It's what we make of the time we have, how we decide we want to that time to be, and who we choose to spend that time with.

I really think all of us have a little of Mallory inside us. The parts that are scared and just want to hide from all the bad. But also there are the parts that are strong and willing to fight to try, or just fight to be a better stronger version of ourselves. 
The parts that accept we will fail more than once and that it is perfectly of for that to happen. Because the fails mean we at least gave it a shot. That we tried.

I just... I feel like I'm not even giving this book the justice it deserves. There is just so much to say and I feel like its all just running through my brain so fast and into this big pile and I just can't sort it all out into the proper words.
So I hope I'm not rambling. Or at least that you don't mind the rambling.

I do have something though that has stuck with me though from this book. And I won't give anything away, so if I'm being super cryptic I'm sorry. Just go with me on this and when you read the book you will hopefully understand the part I'm talking about.

So something that just really rocked me to my core was realizing how much of her self I believe Jen put into this book. Like I said, I won't give anything away, but knowing what I do about her. I saw a person. An author open up in a way I don't think many people can.
I'm not going to even pretend I'm buddy buddy with Jen. I've met her a handful of times and just know what I see her post to social media. But based on those few things I think I saw a new side.
While she is still this beautiful, talented, amazing, strong author. I think I also saw a glimpse of a scared, vulnerable, and worried author too.
Because there is a part in this book that I just...
I know that what she's explaining in her writing is from firsthand knowledge of those feelings and emotions. That they are something she's experienced and has to deal with.
And knowing that while I read the beautiful words she typed on the pages just hit me.
Authors obviously give us a piece of themselves in one way or another in every book they write. But this? I felt like I got this raw unedited version of that piece of her, how she must have felt. And that? That was powerful.
Knowing she did that, it made me realize that not only was it inspiring to see how she was willing to put things out there. But that it showed so much bravery to do so. To bare yourself like that. Even if it is only known to people who just happen to see the pieces fit together in a particular way.

I've been saying for weeks that I would tell ya'll why I've been so MIA the past few months, and the time just hasn't been there for me to do it (ironic I know).
But there is a line in this book, and it's during that part I was just talking about where I think Jen sort of bares it all. But it says:
"How did you wake up one morning thinking everything was fine, that today would be like any other day, and then get told something like that? I didn't know what to think."

And while the situation and explanation is vastly different from the one this quote is referring to. But it hit all the same.
So at the end of February beginning of March after a series of hard events (a funeral of a family friend, having to put down my dog, a huge family fight that involved me moving, you get the gist) my mom found out she had a brain tumor.
She had been having some medical problems for about a year, problems walking some memory loss. Which we thought were being caused by a couple different things like a fall she had taken the previous February and possibly some depression from not being able to walk blah blah blah.
NEVER EVER did I think did it once cross my mind that it could be something like this.
And to just make it all worse I wasn't even with her when she found out. I was eight hours away in Florida attempting to move things up to the new house here in Georgia. I was eight hours away from the one person I care about the most in this world when she got some of the most terrible and frightening news of her life.
I had answered the phone call from my sister thinking she was going to tell me how her doctor’s appointment went with her being pregnant and when the words "Mom has a brain tumor" came through the phone I just had no idea what to do. At the time those were the absolute worst words to hear. We did find out that the tumor was noncancerous and that the surgery (at least this first one) was not as invasive as we thought it would be. But that moment will always stay with me I think. Burned into my brain. I went from a happy dinner with a friend and some of my family to being sick to my stomach with worry. Literally fine one moment and crushed the next.
And while my mom is now on the road to recovery with the first of two done, we still have a long road ahead.
But not everyone is as lucky as I think we wound up being in this situation, and this book...
It makes you realize not to take the little things for granted. Appreciate everything you have, no matter how small or common it may seem. You never know when it could be gone, or how quickly.

Something else I really liked about this book was that there is this theme of wanting to be able to change yourself, or being able to accept yourself ultimately leading to that change happening in one form or another.
No matter how much help others try to give you, or how much support they offer, you have to want that for yourself as well. You're the first step in making a change, or becoming the person you're destine to. No one can do that for you. And that applies to being able to forgive and accept yourself.

I guess I should also get a little into the characters themselves in this review too huh?
Usually that’s my favorite part of these things, but this story just offers so much that I almost don't even have to talk about them for you to get a feel for how they are or how they touched me. But I do want to just briefly talk about them.

I obviously loved Mallory and Rider. The two give this perfect image to that phrase "beautifully broken". Just the things they go through, the way they find their way back to each other, and the things they discover about themselves made them such extraordinary characters.

Mallory at first has this scared shy quality about her that you see slowly fade away as she grows and blooms into this confident amazingly strong person.
She still needs help sometimes though, and the best thing about that is... she knows it.
She has such a hard time accepting that at first too. But you see her begin to own her setbacks and quirks. To really understand how they can be both spectacular and terrible at the same time.

And Rider? Gosh!! You all know I tend to like the male characters better than the female ones. They are always hot, strong, and sure of themselves. And Rider is all of those... But he's also hard working, and talented (even if he doesn't see it), unsure of himself, and yes even broken (even if he refuses to believe he is). And I have to say I found that even more enduring in a way. And maybe because it's that I have this connection to his character. With everything going on with my mom and just the family drama that completely surrounds me on a daily basis I feel like I've got the whole world on my shoulders. I play daughter, sister, aunt, student, nanny, chauffeur, even the roll of guardian to my mom during the worst parts. I've had anxiety attacks that got so bad at one point I actually blacked out from the stress of it all. But I keep going. I keep helping. And I always do what I can no matter how it affects me. I can't not be there my family, and much like Rider I don't want to accept that I need to see that I can't always e the strong one. That it's ok to say it's too much sometimes, and that you need help.

I liked getting to see that strong always caring for others character deal with some pretty heavy self-acceptance. Because it's something I've had to do myself.
And get to see him understand he truly needs all of that to become the person he wants to be for Mallory and even for himself. That the past won't go away and will shape you. but that you have to decide how you will put that shape into the puzzle that is he life you want.
And not just what you think you are only able to amount to or what everyone expects you to be based on the circumstances life has thrown your way.

To be honest, I also feel like some of the supporting characters impacted me the most in this book as well.
Ainsley, Hector, Jayden. Even Paige. Have special places in my heart than Mallory and Rider do. They experience and deal with things that are far different from the two main characters, but that are just as life altering and important.
And seeing how those things really had an effect on the whole cast of characters was what it really came down to.
They took all the parts the two main characters had going on, and tied them together. Made each Mallory and Rider realize things about themselves and each other that they needed to change. But also realize the things that made them be able to be impressed with themselves. These characters helped to show how much they grew and are even still growing by the time the last chapter finished.

Just everything really when it came to this book was detrimental in how I feel about it.
I'm not sure I can even pinpoint just one thing in particular that stood out. It's just how the whole thing wove together and the feeling I got when I finished the last word and closed the book.
It made me laugh, smile... cry, and nearly feel my heart breaking in my chest.
But the fact that a book can even evoke so many feelings from me shows me just how amazing and powerful it was.
This by far has to be my favorite JLA book to date *gasp! (Yes I know... What about Daemon. He holds a special place too don't worry)
I really truly hope i could convince you to go out and grab a copy of this book though. Just take some time out of your busy life to sit down, open it up, and let the words pour over you.
Let all of the emotions good and bad surround you, and embrace them.
This book practically speaks for itself... so let it.
Because it has so so much to tell you.

***** I give THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER: 5 Stars *****