Lima and Hailey have always been best friends: Lima shy and sensitive, Hailey funny and free-spirited. But Hailey abandons Lima to party with the popular kids and pursue Nate, her disinterested crush. As their friendship falters, Lima and Nate begin spending more time together. And before Lima knows what she’s feeling, she and Nate do something irreversible. Something that would hurt Hailey….if she knew it happened.
Lima thinks she’s saving her friendship by lying, but she’s only buying time. As the secrets stack up, Lima is forced to make a choice: between her best friend forever, and the boy who wasn’t meant to be hers.
This book surprises you in more ways than one.
Normally, the YA books I read follow characters who are 17-19 years old. It’s honestly been a long time since I read a book with a 15-year old main character. Because of the age, I knew I would be reading a coming of age novel where the characters would be doing lots of “Firsts”.
So, of course, this character happened to be innocent and naive as can be. Not gonna lie, bothered the crap outta me. What’s character-reader bonding like wanting to punch the girl? But, I gotta say Lima was the star of Romano’s debut novel. She was sweet, pure and human. She made mistakes and she fixed them. She was so real and again, human. Because she was 15/16 in the novel, I was also able to sympathize and relate to her. Lima is like any ordinary girl and she has to come to terms with the fact that nothing last forever and everything is changing. She is a different person from the first page to the last, making First There Was Forever, a definite Coming of Age novel.
I did grow to like Lima but I can’t say the same for Hailey, her “best friend”. I’m not going to get started on her because I’ll probably won’t stop once I do. If you guys have read First There Was Forever, you’ll understand me when I say Hailey was a very very hard character to like. She was self-absorbed and too boy-crazy for my liking. She was also selfish, manipulative and a horrible friend to Lima. She was shallow, mean and insecure to the point of ridiculousness. (I’m not being insensitive to insecurity ’cause I know insecurity and I understand insecurity, but Hailey brought it to a whole other level. When/If you read this book, you’ll understand) I wanna say more but this will turn into rant. Key point: I really hate this character.
While I’m on characters, let’s talk about Nate. He was a disappointment. I didn’t love or hate him. I like most male characters in YA novels, especially those who are close to the main character but Nate can’t join my list of book boyfriends. He wasn’t special and didn’t really stand out like I hoped. He was like a Plain Jane (Joe? Jim? John? What’s the male version of that??). He didn’t do anything for me to hate him either. He slipped under my radar and that sucks because he plays a crucial part in this novel.
The one thing Nate contributes to the novel is the romance. The romance part kinda goes like this: Hailey likes Nate. Nate likes Lima. Lima starts to like Nate, but Hailey likes Nate, and Lima pursuing Nate goes against the unspoken girl code. Lima does go against the girl code (as expected) but Hailey deserved it in my opinion. The romance between Hailey was practically non-existent save that one kiss, (which still doesn’t count because both were drunk) so it was mostly between Nate and Lima. Their relationship was cute and sweet. Romano told the story of first love, using these characters and she did it perfectly. It’s how I imagined what my first relationship would be and the fact that I’m the same age as Lima, it was more understandable.
Plot is what made me rate this 4 stars. It was simple and not overly complicated, still sending an important message. The simplicity of this novel made it complex, beautiful and easy to read. (Does that even makes sense??) Romano wrote a story about two best friends who end up finding themselves on their own. They grow apart, they make mistakes and they lean on each other, despite the wavering friendship. A boy gets in between them, there are mean girls, and new friendships. First There Was Forever is honest and reflects on life itself.
Additionally, First There Was Forever explores subjects like drinking, drugs, parental supervision, lying, honesty, sex, parties, high school, and so much more. It goes through everything a 15/16-year old girl would go through and it wasn’t overplayed. Again, it was honest, simple and expressed growing up and maturing.
I liked this book very much and this novel shouldn’t be overlooked.
I recommend this book to 14 to 16-year olds as this book is relatable and has some good advice. Those who are interest in Coming of Age novels and realistic fiction will also enjoy this novel.
Definitely one of my shorter reviews.. Oh well!
Keep calm and read on!