Young Adult Review: Forever for a Year by B.T. Gottfred

This book may be unsuitable for people under 18 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Young Adult Review: Forever for a Year by B.T. GottfredForever for a Year by B. T. Gottfred
My Rating: four-stars
Published by Macmillan on July 7th 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Romance, Social Themes, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format Read: Hardcover
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ThriftBooks

When Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other.  They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first sexual experiences.  When they’re together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time... but first love, by definition, can’t happen twice.

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.

NOTE: This review contains major plot spoilers.

While it’s admittedly taken longer than I’d have liked, I finally got around to finish reading one of the novels by B.T. Gottfred after discovering he was an author back in March as per my film review of The Movie Hero.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Not really, and not in the way I expected.

I’ll admit that I do enjoy light romances from time to time. Forever for a Year wasn’t exactly light, but I still found it enjoyable and a decent fit for me. From the book’s synopsis, the novel sounded really cute. And it was for about two thirds of the way. I began reading it the night I was due for my sleep study and whizzed through 150 pages before it was time for me to get hooked up and go to sleep.

Trevor and Carrie, or Carolina as she wants to be called now that she’s in high school, meet at the beginning of the school year. Trevor’s family moved from California to Illinois after his mother’s failed suicide attempt. He thinks that the world is pointless. Not that he’s depressed, but just a “meh” feeling about things. Carolina’s family, on the other hand, isn’t perfect either. Her father had cheated on her mother and Carolina kicked him out of the family.

When the two meet, it’s like sparks fly and like they’re incredibly infatuated with one another. It’s your typical teenage love: he’s the one for me, we’re soulmates, I never want to leave your side, you’re perfect, and so on. Each chapter alternates between the two so it’s fun to get each character’s perspective of what’s happening and what they’re thinking. Carolina is especially mushy in her way of talking, lots of exaggerations, oh my goshes, you name it. While reading a slightly obnoxious teenager’s thought process was ever so slightly annoying, it’s not something I got hung up on. I got used to it quickly. Here’s a quick example on the kind of talk from Carolina I’m referring to that can be slightly obnoxious:

Which was so true. So true. The truest thing ever. But because something’s important, doesn’t mean it’s good? Yes. Right? I didn’t know. I was so tired.

Trevor’s more straightforward about things when it’s his point of view. I also want to take a moment to mention that Trevor has a seven year old sister named Lily who has the maturity level and wiseness of a 30 year old. It’s crazy…but it worked. It kept things fresh and different.

The book clocks in around 425 pages. The book was great for about the first 2/3 of it. Then I felt like it took a nosedive and became, without sounding too insulting, a train wreck for a while before it redeemed itself somewhat at the very end. The first two thirds of the novel were absolutely cute. It was fun to see the relationship between the couple blossom and the whole school growing jealous of the pair. You get to see their confidence grow. You get to experience their dates as they experience them, their first kiss, the first touches, and you also get to hear all about their sexual activities. It did feel a little weird to me, a 23 year old guy, reading about the sex life of fictional characters who are almost a decade below my age…ya feel? Teenage sex is definitely a thing, whether it’s just touching certain spots, experimentation, or the whole shebang. There’s no reason to act like it doesn’t happen and tone the book down, which it wasn’t. While this is a young adult novel, I’d say it’s the most explicit young adult novel I’ve read. It’s something to keep in mind. Also, I can’t help but throw a small dig at myself: this couple has a better love life than I’ve ever had!

Here’s where things get ugly, and keep note there is nothing but plot spoilers, including how it ends, ahead.

The following are excerpts from the book, with context given as needed.

Exhibit A: the two go to a party on New Year’s. This is where the book begins to descend alongside the relationship between the two. This older guy Alexander previously popped up briefly a few times in the book with an interest in Carolina, but she has zero interest in him – her heart belongs to Trevor. He texts her on New Year’s while at said party. Trevor asks who, she lies and says one of her girl friends. He doesn’t believe her. The bold text below is a text he sent to Carolina.

I wasn’t mad at her, was I? I was sad. (Lily always knew.) But maybe I was mad that I was said.

Me: I promise I’ll love you forever. I’m going to bed and turning off my phone.

Crap. Why did I do that? Why make her think I was mad at her? Even if I was, I shouldn’t let her worry all night I was mad. I shouldn’t. But…I wanted her to never text whoever she texted on New Year’s Eve ever again. And maybe she needed to worry all night so she never would. It’s a horrible thing to do, to torture your girlfriend like that, but maybe that’s what you have to do so she doesn’t take you for granted.

Umm no Trevor, you definitely don’t want to make someone feel like shit so they don’t do something ever again. That’s called being toxic and abusive.

Exhibit B:

That night, my dad drove me over to Trevor’s. I wore a short skirt that was super uncomfortable, but wanted Trevor to think sex thoughts and not mad-at-me thoughts.

It’s also worth noting that there are so many occasions in the book where the parents are either not at home for hours on end or just leave them alone in the basement for a while without checking on them. Do you want a teenager to get pregnant? Because that’s how a teenager can get pregnant.

Exhibit C: This was a paragraph I had tweeted out. First it was just because I wanted to point out that guys can ugly cry too but then after I tweeted that sentence I read the rest of the page and was just left dumbfounded.

When Carolina hugged me, I started crying. Not crying, crying. I’m not a girl. But, you know, tears in the corners of my eyes. I didn’t even know what it was about. About my mom? Maybe. Or maybe about Carolina lying about those texts. I thought I might be losing her, and now she was hugging me like she loved me more than ever and would take care of me always. After I teared up for a minute, my penis got hard. Carolina was hugging me so tight! I never thought you could cry and get an erection at the same time. Life is complicated.

Exhibit D: What seven year old knows about sex?! I sure didn’t.

“Lily!” I called out as I ran after her through the house. “Get back here!”

“Are you guys fighting?” she yelled from some hiding spot. I followed her voice.

“Not anymore.”

“Are you guys having sex?”

“NO!” I said but… I wanted to. I wanted to be that close. I wanted Carolina to be my first and for me to be her first and for us to do it before anything could ever stop that from happening.

Lily popped out from the storage door under the stairs. “I don’t think you should have sex until you are married,” she said.

Exhibit E: Having sex when your relationship is failing is TOTALLY a great idea and will definitely save it.

Trevor and I needed to have sex, we did, or else all these bad things like Alexander or his mom’s sadness or the universe might pull us apart.

Exhibit F: No comment.

Trevor was naked and I could feel him, his penis, the tip, I could feel it on my, you know, and it kept rubbing against me and it felt good. So tingling. Shivers. I wanted to laugh. But not laugh our loud. I kept my eyes open because I wanted him to know it was okay. I wanted to see what he looked like when it happened.

I kept scrunching my butt lower so that I would be closer to him, so that he would know he could do it. Why can’t we just talk about it? We should. We weren’t wearing a condom. Oh my gosh. We didn’t have a condom. But it was okay. You can’t get pregnant on your first time. Obviously you can. I’m not stupid. But it wouldn’t happen. We would be fine. And I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to have sex. I wanted to be a woman. I wanted to be with Trevor forever.

It’s also worth noting that over the course of the novel, Carolina went from “I’m not having sex until college” to “I’m not having sex until I’m a few years older” to “I’m having sex on my birthday” to “I’m having sex now”.

Exhibit G: Trevor while going at it with Carolina. Mate, that’s not the right attitude.

“Do you want me to stop?” Please don’t tell me to stop. Please don’t tell me to stop. Please don’t tell me to stop.

Exhibit H: I actually exclaimed “what!” out loud when reading this.

Then he got hard and we started kissing and we decided we could go to the golf course, which was closed

because it was winter, but would have trees we could hide in. So we got there and he took off his jacket and I lay on it and took off my pants and he pulled down his and we have sex even though we didn’t have a condom. I was sore, but it felt better than yesterday. I just loved him so much and, today, our bodies felt like they loved each other as much as our hearts.

“Don’t go inside me,” I said, and he nodded and then, as if me saying it sped him up, he pulled out and went on my stomach. It was gross but it was better than getting pregnant.

Yo. Precum is still a thing. And you’re idiots for not using a condom AGAIN.

Exhibit I: It sounds like they had sex without a condom again.

We went into the hotel, which smelled like the oxygen had died and rotted, and we both went to the bathroom, got naked, and got into bed. It was the first time we had been naked in a bed.

“You’re my soul mate, Trevor,” I said just before we had sex again.

“You’re my everything,” he said.

I forgot to tell him to pull out.

Now here’s where things got even worse: TREVOR’S MOTHER AND CAROLINA’S FATHER WERE HAVING AN AFFAR BEHIND THEIR CHILDREN’S BACKS. !!!!!!

Absolutely wild. Trevor found out, didn’t tell Carolina, and once she found out (the adults were caught red handed out in public by them purely by chance), Carolina ended up going out to breakfast with Alexander the next day who forced himself on her, sexually assaulted her (ack! I hated him every moment of that scene), and then rumor spread around school that she hooked up with Alexander so once he found out, Trevor was incredibly upset. The two broke up. Fast forward a little and Alexander and Trevor fought one day after school over Carolina. Trevor won.

Now, one more exhibit, exhibit J: the pregnancy scare.

She shook her head. “It’s been a week. I’ve never been a late a week. I looked online, and everything says I’m pregnant.”

“But how?” I asked.

“Trevor! We never used a condom half the time!”

“But…” I started. But what was I going to say. She was right. We only used it if it was convenient. And…crap…I’m that guy. I’m that idiot who got his high school girlfriend pregnant.

Luckily she was merely late and not pregnant and after this they finally vowed to actually use protection each and every time.

There’s plenty more exhibits I could get, but I think after ten you get the idea. The pregnancy scare really set the breakup in motion. To paraphrase Trevor’s thoughts, with Carolina things got serious — all of a sudden they felt like they couldn’t act like kids if they were going to be parents since Carolina would have wanted to keep it.

Trevor met a sophomore girl on the track team, and with her things were lighthearted and friendly, which he liked instead of Carolina where things were more serious between them.

And ultimately…

It’s…I love you so much it doesn’t feel good anymore,” Trevor said.

The last 20 pages had a more serious tone when it stopped becoming a train wreck. They didn’t communicate at all. Trevor dated the girl from track and Carolina had a boyfriend she didn’t care for. At the end of vacation they hung out and things felt right at first, but then it didn’t. The kids spoke to their respective parents about the cheating and a life lesson of sorts was given.

The book’s final takeaway and tying of loose has to do with soul mates, which not only came up in the book between the two but also in the dedication — to whose who find each other or never do at all.

In an epilogue of sorts, titled Infinity, there’s thoughts between Trevor and Carolina how they’re soul mates forever but it just wasn’t going to work out. It sounds plausible to me to be a thing to me, like the one who got away. This part made me feel a little something since they were finally and truly over.

Trevor?
Yes?
I love you.
I love you too, Carolina.
I can see into your eyes right now, and I can see everything you’re thinking.
I can see your thoughts, too.
What do you think that means?
I don’t know.
Are you mad at me, Trevor?
No. Are you mad at me?
No, I’m just so, so, so sad.
Are we over forever, Carolina?
I don’t know.
I don’t know either.
I miss you so much, Trevor.
Me too, Carolina.
So then why can’t we be together?
Maybe someday?
Maybe…
Maybe not…
Oh gosh.
Crap.
You’re my soul mate, Trevor.
And you’re mine, Carolina.
Even if we never kiss again.
Even if.

So, as crazy as the book was for a while, I did enjoy it. It’s something I’m going to keep on my bookshelf for the memories.

One final thought, the cover and cherries throughout the book to designate a split…does it symbolize “popping the cherry”, i.e your first time at whatever?



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