Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2139
challenging but important read
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE is a YA contemporary about domestic abuse and friendship. Bee (Joanna Betts) has always felt like a secondary character in her own life, where her parents have a lot of rules and she feels really insecure. She is almost 18 and will be heading to her dream school, SUNY Geneseo, next year. She is worried about what that might do to her best friendship with Jo and Jo's twin brother, Eric.

Bee's life changes when she gets caught up in a whirlwind romance with Aiden, who sweeps her off her feet after their meet cute at the candy shop where she works. But then things keep changing, and she starts to feel isolated from her friends and family and pressured to give up her dreams of SUNY Geneseo. As the story continues, we see a much darker path taking hold, leading to a climactic event where Bee has a choice of two paths and her decision could shape the rest of her life.

What I loved: This book really does a great job of showing how insidious abusive relationships can be and how easily you can ignore those gut feelings and rationalize the early symptoms. The escalation and the feeling of being trapped/second-guessing what happened (gaslighting) also felt real and heartbreaking. There are times early on when you feel as Bee does that this all seems normal in the way that it just feels like the romance swept her away like a novel or movie- until you realize it isn't.

Bee also isn't always a likable character herself (she is pretty mean to some of the other girls at her school like Cicily), but I think that's also important. No matter who you are or what you have done or however not perfect you may be, you do not deserve abuse. And even if you do something along the lines of or actually cheating (flirting, kissing), this does not deserve abuse.

The book also shows the importance of love and support through her best friend, Jo, that really presents a great view of female friendship. It also touches on virginity and the problems with the way it is defined, particularly for girls/women, as the main character loses hers in the book (consensually).

Warnings for this book would include domestic abuse/violence, gaslighting, and sexual content (consensual but rough in places and described).

Final verdict: Heart-breaking and intense, ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE is a book about domestic abuse, including the warning signs, gaslighting, and danger of rationalization that make it a really important but challenging read.
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