Pushing the limits by Katie Mcgarry is one of my favorite Young Adult stories that I’ve come across in recent years. It wasn’t the most original or even the most exciting, un-put-downable novel I’ve picked up by any stretch but McGarry made me fall in love with all of the characters. Echo and Noah felt real and so did their families and friends. These were “people” that tugged at my heart strings without it ever once feeling like emotional manipulation—something that I avoid like the plague in other novels. (e.g: Fault in our Stars, anything Nicholas Sparks.)
This is a review for J.L Armenout’s The problem with Forever so I’m sure you’re wondering, “Why all the gushing about a different book?”
Well, the answer is a simple one…
The Problem with Forever was a lot like Pushing the limits for me. All of the really amazing parts about reading this easily overshadowed the handful of things that bugged me.
Mallory and Rider’s story is definitely a romance but, much like with Echo and Noah, their story goes beyond the female protagonist blushing every other page. Or the teenage heartthrob in shining armor saying something totally swoon worthy right on queue. This is a story about childhood abuse and the suffering that’s very real in the lives of
too so many children in the Foster system. It also shows that heartbreaking endings aren’t limited to orphans.
Even in the moments where I knew exactly what would happen next I never got bored. I never lost interest in wanting to see how it would all turn out for Mallory and Rider. I was pleasantly surprised with how excited I was to get to the moment in the story when Mallory, and perhaps even Rider realized that it wasn’t just the latter’s pension for being a hero— her hero—that kept them connected. I looked forward to the I love you moment and I couldn’t even bring myself to roll my eyes at the cheesy moments in between.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE:
Can someone please explain to me when and how “Puerto Rican” became a language? I cringed every time Mallory described the Spanish being spoken as speaking Puerto Rican. Pleasecorrect me if I’m wrong but last I checked Puerto Ricans don’t have their own separate language. Slang? Idioms? Of Course. Pretty much every culture does. But language? I scratched my head, wondering how this made it through the editing phase. And since I’m already on the subject of language, I found the way Armentrout mixed Spanish into the otherwise English dialogue Hector, Jayden and Rider spoke to be awkward as Hell. Their dialogue felt forced, as if she wanted emphasis on the fact that she had
diverseHispanic characters in her book. For example, when Hector would say the whole sentence in English, but then end it with bebe. It was weird. I’m from NYC. I’ve lived diversity all my life—especially throughout my education—and even if my America-born Latino friends were fluent in their native language, their Spanglish did not sound anything like the Hispanic characters in this book.
Anddddd…..that’s it, I think. I suppose I could come back and edit this later to add another addendum to the dislikelist if it comes to mind. But as I’ve said already, the good pretty much outweighed the bad in this book. Sure, there’s one very big thing I hated about the story but that had more to do with my loves of the characters rather than the story lines.
WHAT I DID LIKE:
Rider’s girlfriend Paige—aka the faux-obstacle keeping the two love interests apart—Yeah, she was actually a lot more than that. I love the fact that she served as more than a typical Young Adult Romance trope. And even as cruel as she was (okay, so that part was pretty consistent with the evil-soon-to-be-Ex formula), as the story developed I could see her as more than a cardboard cut out of every over-the-top mean girl you come across in stories of teenage romance. In fact, if you’d allow me to indulge in yet another TV show comparison—Paige was a lot like Blair Waldorf in the sense that her motivations were very much driven by human emotions that went beyond superficial envy of a girl who gets the guy she wants.
Yes, the dialogue was super-cheesy at times, but it never took away from the swoon-worthiness that is Rider Stark. He was
almost too good to be true. He’s the second thing I enjoyed about The Problem with forever. I hate his name, by the way. I did however love his character even more than I hated the first name “Rider”. And as for his last name (Stark)…if you’re familiar with Game of Thrones, I must point out that the last name definitely fit when it came to his childhood. The Starks always seem to get the short end of the stick, they always seem to finish last. But they also never stop fighting for themselves and the people/things they hold dear.
Rider never stopped fighting either. Rider was a hero I actually believed in. He was the rare hero I genuinely enjoyed from beginning to end. But what I loved most was how Rider and Mallory found strength within themselves AND each other.This is something that doesn’t happen often enough in romance novels where the two love birds are supposed to be two halves of a whole. This wasn’t your typical “Reformed bad boy saves helpless little I-don’t-think-I’m-pretty-‘cause I’m-average Damsel in distress” scenario. I only wanted to punch Mallory and tell her to man up on maybe one occasion that isn’t immediately coming to mind. This honestly feels like a first for me. Normally I always end up complaining about how the female needed validation from her crush, how she needed him to hold her hand through every little thing. And it always pisses me off. The problem with forever was a refreshing twist on two teenagers in love genuinely being—I can’t believe I’m saying this, ugh—MFEO.
Mallory and Rider were Yin and Yang in that they truly did balance one another. My mother used to tell me all the time,You can’t help those that don’t help themselves, and I believe it more and more as I get older.
In the end Mallory saved herself. Yes, she had her beau there to help her through but she wasn’t helpless alone, she wasn’t a damsel anymore, in the end. Mallory literally stood up on her own.
And I fucking LOVED that!
The problem with forever also made me cry, People. And no this isn’t another thing to tack on to the list of things I did like, because who the Hell LIKES crying when it’s not from laughing too hard? Me turning on the waterworks is merely the direct result of the main reason I enjoyed the book as much as I did.
J.L Armentrout created characters that I not only enjoyed getting to know. I actually gave a damn what happened to each and every one. I rooted for them, the way I rooted for Noah in Pushing the limits. Even the antagonist Paige, the obligatory jealous, angry, evil female that every Young Adult novel just has to have—even she was someone I could empathize with. All of her spite, her in-your-face loathing and disdain for Mallory never felt overdone, or unwarranted for that matter, when it came down to it.
So, while I have had issues with Armentrout’s books in the past, this is one that I would definitely recommend. In fact, I already have.
And I’m excited to see how my siblings feel about it.
4.5 Stars because it wasn’t perfect, but pretty damn close.