When I first heard about Always Forever Maybe, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.
It wasn’t just the pretty, dripping paint cover that caught my eye. It was also how this book continues to spark a discourse that is really important and necessary in the scope of all of today’s YA literature.
(Also, welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Anica Mrose Rissi’s Always Forever Maybe yada yada giveaway yada yada please keep reading I will love you forever etc. etc. Now, back to the important stuff. )
This is a book that talks about domestic abuse.
And you might be thinking, “Ok, that’s cool and all, but why is this so important that your entire creative post is about this? We already know domestic abuse = bad.”
My answer is that there are so many nuances to domestic abuse that isn’t so cut and dry.
I used to be one of those people that, despite supporting those suffering from domestic abuse through volunteer work etc., didn’t really understand why people didn’t jjust leave the abusive situation.
I used to think “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” And for a lot of people who haven’t gone through such a terrible experience or who don’t know someone who has gone through this, it’s hard to understand why people don’t leave abusive partners.
But for me, books and literature helped me understand the nuances to domestic abuse.
It’s not just physical, but it spans to emotional and mental manipulation, as demonstrated by Aiden in Always Forever Maybe.
You’re really able to understand the severity of what is happening through reading this book. Even though the change from the view “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” to a better understanding on why women stay in abusive relationships occurred because of Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us (great book, definitely recommend) Always Forever Maybe is still a book that teaches the same lesson on a more YA reading level (aka less sex & graphic descriptions).
It’s really impactful to see how everything starts out well and good and normal for the protgonist, Bee, as she falls in love with this mysterious, almost bad-boy Aiden. Bee ends up head over heels in love with him, and even though everything starts out fine at first, it goes downhill as Rissi drops hints about Aiden’s abusive tendencies.
It started out on an emotional level–a large amount of possessiveness and unwillingness to “share” Bee with her friends, even her best friend Jo. It then goes further, Aiden acting hot and cold with Bee to try to get her to do what he wants, and him becoming overly jealous.
It then progresses to more physical things, like unwanted hickeys, bruises, and angry sex. Their relationship eventually reaches a climax, and it’s stark to see how something that appeared to be young love ended up as something so terrible because of one partner’s actions.
It’s not the progression of their relationship in Always Forever Maybe that is the skillfully crafted part, but rather the way Rissi shows Bee’s thought process throughout the whole experience.
In the past, I might have wondered why Bee doesn’t just leave Aiden. But Rissi explains this really well and demonstrates how victims constantly justify their abuser’s actions.
Throughout the story, Bee continues to defend Aiden to her friends, and eventually even justifies his physically harmful actions by thinking that she deserves it for not loving him enough and other false, yet seemingly true-to-Bee justifications.
It’s this that helps people who haven’t experienced it first or secondhand to understand the pains and the struggles victims go through. I think Rissi did a wonderful job of showing this in Always Forever Maybe, and there’s so much more to the wonderful piece of literature she crafted than what I can explain in this post.
And this all brings me to my second point.
The young adult landscape, although being very progressive compared to other industries, still features a lot of possessive and angry and potentially harmful characters and relationships.
Characters like (sorry to throw SJM under the bus) Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses show characters with these harmful tendencies, and books like these in the hands of young readers (granted, this is if you never end up reading book 2 and how it shows Tamlin = bad) can be especially harmful for impressionable young minds.
When young readers read relationships like these, i.e. alpha males and possessive bad boys and all sorts of dominating characters, it perpetuates the idea that it’s okay to be treated like a possession. Relationships in YA that aren’t completely healthy, especially in popular books with lots of young readers, can end up being really harmful for the teens who read them because it gives off the wrong idea.
I feel like books like Anica Mrose Rissi’s Always Forever Maybe and others like Kami Garcia’s Broken Beautiful Hearts are paving the way in pointing out abusive tendencies and educating teens.
We really need more books that feature healthy relationships as well as books that can prove to be educational and make readers empathize with the struggles those who suffer from domestic abuse go through.
This is why Anica Mrose Rissi’s Always Forever Maybe is so important, and by reading it, you’re able to further understand the nuances to abusive relationships and simultaneously portray the right ideas to other readers.
If you’re in an abusive relationship and need help, I urge you to get help. You can find the National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7) who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling at the numbers below:
More About the Book
Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
When Betts meets Aiden at the candy store where she works, their connection is like a sugar rush to the heart. Even before they share a first kiss, Betts already knows the two of them are destined to become an us.
Betts has a bruised, cautious history with love, but she feels safe and empowered in Aiden’s arms. He trusts her with the darkness in his troubled past, and his devotion opens up a new future for Betts just as everything else in her world is changing. With graduation inching closer, Betts and her best friend, Jo, have been sliding slowly apart, and that fissure is blown wide open by Aiden.
Betts has only ever kept one secret from 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.
More About the Author
Anica Mrose Rissi grew up on an island off the coast of Maine. After college, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a cheesemonger and book editor. She now writes, fiddles in the electro-country band Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves, and walks with her dog, Arugula, near their home in Princeton, New Jersey. Anica is the author of several books for younger readers, and her essays have been published by The Writer and the New York Times. Always Forever Maybe is her YA debut. Visit her online at anicarissi.com, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @anicarissi.
Want to try your luck at winning a copy of Anica Mrose Rissi’s Always Forever Maybe? Check out the giveaway through the Rafflecopter button below where one winner will receive a hardcover of Always Forever Maybe! (US only) You can also find the buy links in the “More About the Book” section!
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The Book Slayer– Review
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf– Review
Which books about domestic abuse have you read & which do you recommend?