I’m so excited to be part of the Always Forever Maybe blog tour. I’ll get to my review in a second, but first let me tell you a little about the book:
Always Forever Maybe
Release Date: June 5, 2018
When Betts meets Aiden at the candy store where she works, their connection is like a sugar rush to the heart. Even before they share a first kiss, Betts already knows the two of them are destined to become an us.
Betts has a bruised, cautious history with love, but she feels safe and empowered in Aiden’s arms. He trusts her with the darkness in his troubled past, and his devotion opens up a new future for Betts just as everything else in her world is changing. With graduation inching closer, Betts and her best friend, Jo, have been sliding slowly apart, and that fissure is blown wide open by Aiden.
Betts has only ever kept one secret from Jo, but suddenly there’s a long list of things she won’t tell her, things Jo wouldn’t understand. Because Jo doesn’t see how good Aiden is for Betts. She finds him needy. Possessive. Controlling.
She’s wrong. With a love like this, nothing else matters.
Normally I would bristle at someone I just met acting like he had me all figured out, but this guy – I felt like whatever he wanted me to be, I’d be it.
No. Whatever he wanted me to be, that’s what I already was.
Always Forever Maybe is not your average YA contemporary romance. But it starts out that way. Betts meets Aiden when he comes into the candy store where she works. They are drawn to each other instantly and quickly enter into a wistful, runaway relationship.
But before long the relationship slowly begins to transform from romantic and wonderful to dangerous, toxic and unhealthy. Of course, Betts is in the throws of it. She can’t see past his love for her and she easily makes excuse after excuse for each red flag. She is young and inexperienced, and unfortunately this thinking (oh man, especially for young women) is all too tragically relatable.
He saw the sexiest, most daring, best version of who I was, and brought out the sides of me I hadn’t known were there. And he trusted me with parts of himself I knew no on else saw – how the sadness in his past made him both strong and vulnerable. How his toughness hid layers of anger and pain. That rawness at his center made me want – no, need – to wrap him in a love that would protect him from the entire world.
And here is where the true hero of the story shines. Betts’ best friend, Jo, is not blinded by Aiden’s facade. From the very beginning, she can see that he is trouble – controlling, possessive, threatening – and she won’t stand for how he treats her best friend.
Always Forever Maybe is a fierce, honest look at what female friendships can conquer. It is empowering and striking how absolutely devoted Jo remained to Betts even after it became incredibly difficult and confrontational to act or even voice her opinion.
Our friendships define who we are. This friendship defines who I am. Being best friends with you brings out all the best and stupidest, most creative and interesting and worthwhile sides of me, and it challenges me to be better and makes it okay that I’m flawed, and I hope I do that for you, too. I am ten million times better and stronger because of it, because of us.
Of course these sorts of toxic relationships are disturbingly common. I applaud Rissi for writing about it and bringing light to how easily it is to fall into something like this. My biggest issue with Always Forever Maybe was that the ending seemed too easy as well. I can’t help but fear for Betts beyond the end of the story. It just did not feel over.
I can’t end without touching on Betts herself. She was kind and funny. Her casual banter with her friends were some of my favorite parts of the novel. I also loved her friendship with Jo’s brother, Eric. So much so that I couldn’t help but root for Betts to find someone more like Eric. But life is complicated and love is even more so.
He gestured toward the display. “I’m overwhelmed. Who knew there were so many different shamrock lollipops?”
I adjusted my visor. “So you need assistance choosing amongst the many kinds of suckers?”
He nodded emphatically. “Yes, please. Which one sucks the best?”
“I assure you they all suck,” I said. “Deeply.”
Anica Mrose Rissi
Anica Mrose Rissi grew up on an island off the coast of Maine. After college, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a cheesemonger and book editor. She now writes, fiddles in the electro-country band Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves, and walks with her dog, Arugula, near their home in Princeton, New Jersey. Anica is the author of several books for younger readers, and her essays have been published by The Writer and the New York Times. Always Forever Maybe is her YA debut. Visit her online at anicarissi.com.
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