Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Riss
I find the Goodreads synopsis somewhat giving away too much plot. Even the first chapter is kinda spoilery. But there is a reason for that. It‘s because “Always Forever Maybe” is not your regular contemporary romantic YA. It’s more of a cautionary tale that not all meet-cutes lead to happily ever afters.
So the whole time, while Betts and Aiden are having their hearty-eyes first encounter at the candy shop to having caffeinated getting-to-know strolls along the lake to having a more intimate relationship, there is that looming trepidation that everything will soon take a dark turn. The reader could only hope and cross fingers that Betts would be able to rise above it.
Friendship as the relationship to root for
Betts is understandably blind and close-minded because she believed that what she and Aiden have is true love. And a love like that is all that matters. She had this us-against-the-world mentality with Aiden. She began telling lies to her parents so she can continue seeing him. She started making excuses for some of Aiden’s questionable behaviors. She started pushing away other people.
It’s a good thing that Betts’ childhood bestfriend, Jo, is fiercely loyal and stubborn. For a while, Betts seems to lost control and became a rag doll in a tug of war between Aiden and Jo. Of course, I am all aboard Team Jo. Betts’ and Jo’s friendship is something that I want to root for. ‘Coz you know what, I am tired of witnessing too many real-life women friendships ruined and driven apart just because of a guy. I really hate it when that happens, so for a change, I want the friendship to win over the romance.
Worth reading for its relevant messages
I have a few quibbles though. The pacing is a bit uneven for me. And there are times when characters magically pop up on the scene when the plot needs them (for example, Jo appearing at the right moment when Betts needs saving). I also find it not fair that the narrative lacks a representation of a “proper” nice guy. Tyson, the ex-boyfriend, is a cheater. Aiden is well, bad news as bad news can be. And even Eric, Jo’s twin brother and the supposedly nice guy, has the propensity to be a player (he switches girlfriends too quickly).
“Always Forever Maybe” is far from perfect but I will not undermine its heart and empowering ending. It is worth reading for its relevant messages of valuing friendships and having the courage to walk away from a toxic relationship even if doing so means pain and heartbreak.
- Worth reading for its relevant messages