When Betts meets Aiden at the candy store where she works, their connection is like a sugar rush to the heart. Betts already knows the two of them are infinite. Inevitable. Destined to become an us. Betts has only ever kept one secret from her best friend, 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.
Always Forever MaybeFeatured
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.
There are so many things that I liked about this book and that I think Anica did really well. One being Jo and her friendship to Betts. I love books with great best friends and I think Jo was such an amazing character as well as a friend. No matter how many times Betts pushed her away or lied to her Jo knew something was wrong and she kept showing up. And when everything happened Jo was there. She made sure Betts knew her worth and that she was loved even if Betts fought her tooth and nail.
Another thing that I think Anica did really well was that she completely captured these feelings. From first love, to being afraid of every move you make, to feeling so alone. Betts is a strong character and I loved seeing that her strength didn’t take away from the fact that she was in this situation. And I loved the way Anica writes this character who is in this bad situation but still has this incredible strength and you can see it in her even if it takes awhile for Betts to see it in herself.
Overall Its a great story, and characters that have incredible strength. Anica is a beautiful writer that took a story about a very tough topic and filled it with hope and love and growth. I would suggest picking this one up.
At first, I love how cute their relationship is. It shows how beautiful love at first sight is and the pros and cons of it. But later on, you will be a kinda bit of irritated how one of the lovable character in the story shifts into a non-lovable character.
The characteristic of all the characters are well-developed. Each of them contribute with each other. There are no characters who were left behind and each of them are all lovable.
One thing that readers will love in the story is Jo, Betts' bestfriend. Jo is one of the strongest character that you will encounter in the story. She really helps a lot in building the plot of the story. She did contributed as well in reminding us good things to expect from our friends and family.
The story and style writing is good that it helps readers to open up their minds that not all relationship has good influences to us. It also show us that our family and friends will be by our side despite the bad and unintentional things we did.
After reading the story, it will tell us that toxic relationships is not good and always love yourself first and no matter what happens, do not let others hurt us either physically or emotionally.
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