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Forever for a Year Hardcover – July 7, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Carolina and Trevor meet on the first day of their freshman year when Carolina gives Trevor two sheets of paper and a pencil so he can take notes in class. For both, it is near love at first sight. For Carolina, her freshman year is a chance to start fresh and be one of the popular girls while getting over her dad's infidelity to her mom. For Trevor, it's his second time attempting a freshman year, but in a new city as his family tries to pick up the pieces of his mother's attempted suicide. The teens fall hard and fast, sharing just about every first love experience one could imagine. Like Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park (St. Martin's, 2013), this work is a tale of first love from the protagonists' alternating points of view. Gottfried gives this concept a new spin by providing a detailed account of all aspects of this budding relationship, from every insecure thought to the last "I love you." The author captures the unhealthy codependency of crushes in a way that will be relatable to teens. Some graphic sex scenes makes this title appropriate for older readers. VERDICT A swoon-inducing and heartbreaking novel for most YA collections.—Adrienne L. Strock, Teen Library Manager, Nashville Public Library
“Debut author Gottfred captures the starry-eyed exhilaration of first love (and nervous first explorations of sex) with tenderness and humor....Readers will need hearts of steel not to fall for this love story and its two storytellers.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Like Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, this work is a tale of first love from the protagonists' alternating points of view....A swoon-inducing and heartbreaking novel for most YA collections.” ―School Library Journal
“Gottfred is plainly a talent to watch. Both emotionally satisfying and sure to be much discussed.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Poignant, quirky, and achingly honest, Forever for a Year is a pitch-perfect debut about first loves, first heartbreaks, and first forevers. This is the reason we read YA.” ―Jessica Brody, author of the Unremembered Trilogy
“A touching, relatable, and highly appealing coming-of-age romance.” ―The Horn Book
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Top Customer Reviews
The two lead characters, Carolina and Trevor, meet on the first day of high school and it’s as close to love at first sight as only teenagers could imagine. They are instantly intrigued by one another and within a week, are girlfriend and boyfriend. Both naive and innocent, the two quickly become obsessed with each other, their love, and their future. They soon find themselves facing very adult situations, situations that can either bring them closer together or rip them apart.
The chapters in Forever for a Year, switch back and forth between the perspective of Carolina and Trevor. The book follows their love story, and Gottfred’s interpretation of the teenage voice, both male and female, is perfect. It gives his book a distinct flavor that separates it from other Young Adult literature currently in circulation. I’ve seriously never read anything like it.
Gottfred’s writing is incredibly comical...and maybe that’s because it’s so raw. I often found myself giggling and even sometimes, boisterously guffawing, at Gottfred’s awkward teenage situations, and his character’s ridiculously realistic overreactions. Everything is so real, so relatable. Gottfred must be eternally young at heart, because his characters were so natural.
The story’s believability is truly what makes it a must read. There was never a point in the story in which I felt like an outsider looking in. No...I was a part of this story too, from the beginning to the end. I was invested in these characters because I used to be a Carolina in love with a Trevor. It was so relatable to me, an adult, that it makes me question the Young Adult classification of this book...did Gottfred write this for adults, as a way to playfully remember our youth? Is this Adult Literature?
This is Gottfred’s first novel, and his second, The Nerdy and the Dirty due out this November. I can’t wait to read it. I can only hope his style is as uninhibited in his second book as it was in his first.
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.
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
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