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Forever for a Year

Review

Forever for a Year

In FOREVER FOR A YEAR, debut novelist B. T. Gottfred recounts a story of first love that is so realistic it can be uncomfortable to read. 

If you read a lot of YA fiction, like I do, it can be tempting to let yourself believe that all teenagers talk and think like protagonists in novels by John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan or Jennifer E. Smith. But I think if we're honest with ourselves, whether we're teens now or haven't been teens for decades, we probably were not quite as articulate, witty, insightful or even wise as are the characters in many popular YA novels.

The main characters in B. T. Gottfred's debut novel, on the other hand, often think and talk the way real teens do most of the time --- they're often impulsive, confused, overeager, naïve and self-centered --- all at the same time. The result is a novel that can often read like stream-of-consciousness, and at times that consciousness is a little too close to the chaotic reality of the teenage years to feel entirely comfortable.

B. T. Gottfred has given us an at times painfully realistic portrait of young love, warts and all.

FOREVER FOR A YEAR is narrated in alternating chapters by Carolina and Trevor, who meet for the first time on their first day of high school. Carolina (who is intent on reinventing herself in high school after being known as Carrie for her entire life) is a straight-A student and an accomplished soccer player. She has a tendency to doubt herself, though, which, coupled with her eagerness to please, comes through in every word of her breezy, even breathless at times narration: "I stopped walking and sat down. In the middle of the hallway. Oh my gosh, why did I do that?" Trevor, on the other hand, has a tendency toward melancholy, toward pessimism. He isn't afraid of pain --- in fact, he embraces it when he starts running cross-country at his new school. About the only thing he can trust in his life is his relationship with his seven-year-old sister.  

So when Carolina and Trevor feel an instant attraction for one another, they come at their fledgling relationship in very different, but equally intense, ways. There are the usual false starts and second-guesses that accompany young love, as well as the fear of and fascination with sexual experimentation that goes along with most high school romances. Carolina's giddiness and self-doubt can make her feel even younger than she is, and certainly younger than the world-weary Trevor --- but she's had heartache of her own, even if she expresses it differently. 

At times, Trevor and Carolina's repeated declarations of undying love for one another can grow tiresome for the reader, but anyone who looks (back) honestly at their own first romances may grudgingly recognize themselves in the young couple's heartfelt assertions, no matter how annoying they may seem on the outside. FOREVER FOR A YEAR is not always an easy novel to read, in large part since the reader knows (or at least suspects) from the beginning where the relationship is heading. However, B. T. Gottfred has given us an at times painfully realistic portrait of young love, warts and all.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 7, 2015

Forever for a Year
by B. T. Gottfred

  • Publication Date: July 7, 2015
  • Genres: Romance, Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 1627791914
  • ISBN-13: 9781627791915