Expected publication: December 13th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
But soon after classes begin, she meets a classmate, Cole Drepeau, with whom she forms an immediate and intimate bond. As Cole and Lily grow closer, Lily learns about the murder that divided the town more than thirty years before. In 1987, graduating senior Amber Greeley snapped, killing her boyfriend Ben—Cole’s uncle—and taking her own life. Lily feels inexplicably linked to Amber, and she can’t help but think that there’s more to the girl’s story. Determined to investigate the truth about Cole’s uncle’s death, Lily and Cole are pulled into a dark mystery—one that shakes the constraints of the world they’ve always believed in.Masterfully told by best-selling author Victoria Laurie, this novel alternates voices between Lily and Amber, a generation apart, as decades of dark family secrets and treacherous betrayals are woven into the most epic of love stories.
It’s not that often a book goes from a five star read to a one star read for me in the last 10% of the book, but that was pretty much the case with Forever, Again.
On paper, the premise of the book is fascinating. Newcomer Lily Bennett grows close to a guy in her new town. But at the same time, she begins to learn about the potential murder/suicide of Amber and Ben (a.k.a. Spence), two teens who lived in her new town, thirty years earlier.
Lily quickly realizes that she may have a connection to Amber, and that there is more to the girl's death then the town rumors. So she starts investigating...
So, let’s get this out of the way: I generally don’t believe that YA authors/books are required to teach and/or set the path for specific issues. While I do think that they can definitely help influence them, not every book needs to be that way. Sometimes, books can definitely just be for entertainment value.
However, I do have a problem with a book that basically takes a serious issue and skews it, for said entertainment value. Such was the case with the mystery of Spence and Amber’s deaths.
Laurie does a credible job of building up the mystery of their deaths – readers are told that the majority of the town believed that Amber murdered Spence at the time, and that’s been the prevalent theory for the last thirty years.
However, Lily has dreams that seem to indicate otherwise, and when Lily (and readers!) learn that she basically has the capacity to communicate with Amber, vis-à-vis a form of reincarnation that somehow also randomly seems to involve time travel – the urgency to figure out the truth is definitely kicked up.
After pages and pages of Cute Guy! Cole (I actually had trouble remembering his name for a minute, since he literally has zero character development), and Lily trying to figure out the murder – to the point where I started thinking that this was going to a be duology, since it was being dragged out so much – we find out in the last ten percent of the book that Spence killed himself with the help of his mother, because he wanted Amber to move on with his life.
Yes. Spence was so distraught over the fact that:
- Amber got into UCLA, and
- His plans to also attend UCLA were ruined after someone turned him in for cheating on the SATS,
And Amber, after receiving his suicide note and realizing that Spence killed himself voluntarily, decided to end her life in the same way.
She reached out to Spence’s mother, arranged a time for Spence’s mother to come in and kill her – and left a suicide note that was so confusing, everyone ended up thinking that she was basically confessing to the murder.
(Oh, and Spence’s mother went along with it, basically telling Amber: “Hey, I never liked you anyway.” THAT IS NOT A REASON TO KILL YOUR DEAD SON’S GIRLFRIEND.)
Guys. I can’t. I just can’t with this.
I’m going to be the first to admit that I was a bit of a drama queen in high school (and even college, if I’m honest), and I was the first to feel like my world was ending when someone had broken up with me. But you know what my friends and family did?
They told me to get over myself, move on, and live a life so fabulous, the break-up would be a distant, distant memory of my past. And moreover, I would learn from it.
You know who doesn’t do that? Spence and Amber.
Look, I KNOW Laurie intended for Amber and Spence’s deaths to be a tragic life lesson for Lily and Cole, who are dealing with their own issues throughout the book. There’s a moment after the revelations of Amber/Spence’s deaths where Lily is hammered with a point about friendship and moving on that is so unsubtle, it was like having a boulder dropped on her head.
But I think that even with her good intentions, the motivation behind Spence and Amber’s deaths are so irresponsible, I cannot in good faith recommend this book. Teens, you deserve better than this.
Avoid, avoid, avoid.
ETA: A page from the book, where Amber makes the request of Spence's mom:
About the author:
Victoria Laurie is the New York Times best-selling author of the critically acclaimed YA thriller When, and also writes extensively for the adult paranormal mystery genre. She currently lives and works in a quaint little suburb in Michigan where she provides food, love, and shelter to a lippy parrot named Doc and a ginger-colored pup named Ember. To find out more about her and her books, please visit victorialaurie.com.