Told in Carolina and Trevor's alternating voices, this is an up-close-and-personal story of two teenagers falling in love for the first time, and discovering it might not last forever.
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Amazon | Indiebound | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Debut author B.T. Gottfred introduces us to Carolina (Caroleena!) and Trevor, two emotionally complex teens who are looking for their place in the world, and manage to find each other instead. They meet on the first day of school, and end up falling head-over-heels into a complex, messy romance that defines them as their home lives begin to fracture around them.
Forever for a Year is one of those polarizing novels that readers will likely either really like or really dislike. I fell into the the "really like!" camp as I read, largely because I felt that Gottfred has absolutely captured the intense, bordering-on-ridiculousness drama of what it feels like to be in a relationship for the first time.
After their initial meeting, Gottfred charts Carolina and Trevor's process of falling each other, through alternating points-of-view. Initially, it's the usual awkward conversations and overanalyzing of each other's actions, and Gottfred perfectly captures the idea that Carolina and Trevor's ability to relate to each other is juvneile, but also indicative of two people who are learning what it means to enter a new stage of adulthood.
They begin their relationship by essentially imitating their understanding of what a relationship should be - e.g. Carolina has wildly excessive expectations for a gift, and thinks it be a ring - and apply it to their understanding of each other, until they actually do develop that understanding of each other. They're essentially growing into the relationship, as the book progresses.
And Gottfred makes this remarkably clear, through the evolution of their personalities, as well. We see how both Carolina and Trevor emotionally and physically change in each other's company; Carolina becomes extroverted, while Trevor allows himself to be happy; and it's both happy and awkward, especially as we see the crumbling of the adult relationships around them.
The evolution of Carolina and Trevor's relationship is fantastically awkward as the novel progresses, but also a strong reminder from Gottfred on what we learn as we work through this awkwardness for the first time. It's relationships like these that teach us to be prepared - both physically, and emotionally - and it's also these relationships that teach us what to do, what we want, and ultimately, what our future should be.
While the overall progression of Carolina and Trevor's relationship isn't always perfect, there are a multitude of worthy life lessons to be learned from this messy, emotionally astute novel.
B.T. Gottfred has written an intense, messy novel, on the magnified drama and challenges of first love. Carolina and Trevor have a complicated, conflicted relationship that's graphic, detailed and all-consuming, which is so very true for when you're a teenager who's trying to figure out how all of this works for the very first time. It's a raw, honest look at burgeoning adulthood, and I suspect that part of the reason that many have initially struggled with the book: they've likely recognized elements of themselves in both characters.
I do recommend this book for interested readers. This is an intense read, but it's definitely going to make you think.
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