Title: Always Forever Maybe
Author: Anica Mrose Rissi
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication 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. 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.
Reason couldn’t change that I loved him.
It’s not often that I want to read a book without knowing anything about it just because of the cover, but will you look at that damn cover?! I’m a little biased because those are my favorite colors, but once I saw this book I had to know what it was about. My intrigue grew when I read the synopsis and realized that it was about an abusive teenage relationship. I admit, I was a little hesitant to finally pick this book up because of the low overall ratings, but I’m hoping to meet the author later today so I figured I’d give it a shot. And honestly… I can’t figure out why this book doesn’t have higher ratings.
The Cocoon of Us held something infinite, but it didn’t have space for anyone else.
The author did a wonderful job of discussing such a serious, important topic. My favorite thing about this novel was how thought-provoking it was. While reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fine line between an intense first love and an abusive relationship. Truthfully, a few years ago I probably would’ve related well to some of Betts’ feelings, and I think many people who fall in love for the first time would be able to relate as well. From thinking about someone all the time to trying to balance the time you spend with your significant other as well as your friends/family, I think a lot of people can understand where Betts was coming from. However, there’s a point in the story where things definitely cross from “an all-consuming first love” to a relationship that’s both emotionally and physically abusive. Always Forever Maybe really had me wondering where that line should be drawn, as well as which actions are caring and which are controlling. Although I think readers can enjoy this regardless of their age, I think it’s an important read for teenagers because it could help them establish healthier relationships.
Betts and Aiden were not the only characters focused on in the story, however. The other characters in this story were diverse and they felt very real to me. The relationships in Betts’ life are very complex and I really enjoyed the way the author explored them. My favorite relationship to read about was the one between Betts and her lifelong best friend, Jo. The closer Betts got to Aiden, the more she pushed Jo away. Not only that, but she even doubted her best friend’s intentions. Rather than believe that Jo was right to distrust Aiden, Betts misread Jo’s genuine concern as jealousy. The lessons that follow are a beautiful illustration of the importance of friendship as well as the importance of maintaining friendships even when you are in a relationship. Aside from Aiden-related conflicts though, Betts often thinks about what it’s going to be like when she and Jo go to college in a few months and are so far away for the first time in their lives. That part really hit home for me as I went through the same worries as a senior in high school and even made me a bit emotional (my best friend is a few states away and I miss her all the time).
I would love Aiden better, be more careful not to hurt him, so he’d never again be pushed to hurt me in return. That much was the least I could do.
I didn’t know what I had done, but I knew it was my job to reach out and apologize now, to plead and try to prove whatever it was he needed me to prove. But I was tired. No matter how hard or how well I jumped through his hoops or ran when he called or rolled over at his command, it seemed it would never be enough.
Another thing I loved about Always Forever Maybe was the way the author wrote Betts’ inner thoughts. You see Betts struggling between wanting to believe that Aiden is right for her and knowing deep down that he’s mistreating her. She alternates between resenting him and blaming herself. Her thoughts really show the reader how much emotionally damaged she is because of Aiden’s abuse.
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.
One complaint I’ve heard about Always Forever Maybe is that the relationship between Betts and Aiden seemed too insta-lovey. While it was very sudden, it didn’t take away from the story for me because I thought their instant attraction helped illustrate how “addicted” to each other the couple became. It seemed like a fitting beginning for a quickly escalating relationship. I only had one minor complaint, but it does include spoilers. If you’d like to read about it, you can find it on my Goodreads review.
Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable, emotional novel. The characters were well-written, the relationships were complex, and there were so many important lessons. I’d highly recommend it.
I loved Aiden. But what did love even mean if it could push us to a place like this?