Forever For a Year was sent to me for free by someone who couldn’t finish the book, and wanted my review of it. I will say, reading this book was an interesting experience, and there was definitely a point in which I thought I wouldn’t finish it. Reading this book was full of groans of horror, laughs of shock, and lots of screenshots taken and sent to a friend as I marveled at how this book came into being. That said… By the end, I actually liked the book- and even ordered Mr. Gottfred’s other books, which is huge to me, as I don’t often instant buy an author’s works. So let me explain how this book went from a 1/5 “Thanks, I hate it.” to a 3/5 “Worth the read.”
Let me start with the reasons to hate this book. Anyone who reads the first chapter? They’re probably nauseated. Let me clarify: This book is written by an adult man. The two perspectives of the book are two young teenagers- a girl named Carolina and a boy named Trevor. Trevor’s sections, though edgy and sometimes filled with eyerolls, aren’t too bad, and I can see how they relate to guys I’ve known personally, at least at times. Carolina’s sections? I’ve never been more annoyed by a book portraying a teenage girl before- and that’s saying a lot, I’ve read Twilight. Carolina is idiotic, her thoughts all over the place, rife with peer pressure and backwards thought processes. I can see where Mr. Gottfred was trying to go with this, but the way it’s portrayed is simply annoying. The first few chapters are the most guilty of this- and the hardest to get through. Later on in the book, Carolina gets a touch more bearable, but this is only because she stops hanging out with a lot of the other girls that are also unbearable. Mr. Gottfred hits on a few realities of teenage years- but the way he portrays girls is simply awful. He has no understanding of what goes through the mind of a teenage girl. Some of the thoughts Carolina has are ridiculous and cringey to read, and utterly unrealistic. If someone picked this book up, and only read the first five chapters, they wouldn’t like the book. It would be a 1/5, easily, without hesitation.
Some of the most sickening parts I read involved older girls giving the younger Carolina, and her friends her age, terrible and sickening advice that I don’t think any girl would ever willingly say out loud- or believe, for that matter. The highschool depiction of status and girl groups is exaggerated. I sincerely hope Mr. Gottfred doesn’t genuinely think girls are like this- that they live and breathe to be popular and slutty for boys, because it’s just not true. I was, at many points, fed up with this novel, about to put it down, and pushed myself to keep reading. As a writer myself, I am a big believer of being careful what you write, because your writing might be impressionable. Sure, if you’re writing a horror story the likes of Stephen King, write the vile parts of humanity. But if you are writing a coming of age story, something that is supposed to be read and related to- then this is just awful to portray to the world. No one should read this and think any of it is right, and I hope that is the point made by Mr. Gottfred. The mistakes made by Carolina and Trevor, in their very young and impressionable stages, are horrendous.
I hated certain aspects of this story. I hated the parents- their negligible allowance of Trevor and Carolina locking themselves in a movie room and constantly having sex, which I might have thought acceptable at 17 or 18, but not 14 and 15. I hated how many side plots were distracting- like the disappearance of a girl who later just appears, safe and sound, in another state, with very little explanation (despite police investigating when she went missing). I hated certain mental health references, jokes, and insults towards Trevor’s mom. I thought a lot of the book was aggravating, unrealistic, and poorly written, especially in dialogue. When I read Carolina’s voice, I literally heard her whining tone, and hated her even more.
But here is why I’m going to give it a 3/5: Despite all the botched teenage mindset writing, this book had something real at its core- something that unfolded by the end. There were things I could relate to, things that weren’t shied away from that I could appreciate. Real issues that made me think- like agreeing to peer pressure opinions to fit in, losing yourself in the image of others, overthinking the little details between yourself and the person you like. I liked the ending, the knowing fact and theme being that sometimes, people just have too much pile up. Too much history, too much baggage, too much of everything they can’t let go of- and their feelings just end up not being enough. Sometimes, being someone’s soulmate is simply not enough to be with them. It’s something I don’t see often done, and I could appreciate it here. Even though the journey was frustrating and annoying and full of criticism from me, the ending idea was solid, and wonderful.
If you are less of a judge than I am, and just as much of a deep thinker, this book might make you think. It might make you reflect on your own relationships. For me, it made me reflect on a soulmate I might never get to be with. Even with all the signs pointing to how perfect it would be- life isn’t that simple. It gets in the way, and complicates what should be simple. Because I could reflect on that, this book became worth it in the end for me, and that's enough to bump it up to a 3/5, for my personal reading experience. An average. People might enjoy this read in the end, like I did. Or they might never get past the horrible portrayal of a teenage girl.