Note – Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of the
book for review! All opinions are my own. No affiliate links were used
in this post.
At the end of each year I start to look through YA books that will be released in the next year and I compile a list of books to take a look at once they’re released. First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano was on that list. Talked about as a YA contemporary perfect for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, I was immediately intrigued. Once I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read it. So when I was asked if I wanted to read and review this book, I jumped at the opportunity!
First There Was Forever is about Lima, whose best friend has always been Hailey. Tenth grade starts to change their friendship as Hailey seeks out new friends and spends her time partying and chasing after her long-time crush Nate. Hurt and confused, Lima also develops new friendships–including Nate. As Lima and Nate spend more time together, their feelings start to grow, and they do something that could change the dynamic of Lima and Hailey’s friendship forever.
What really drew me to this book when I read the synopsis was the strong friendship dynamic and I was so happy to see that dynamic reflected in the novel. Nate’s character and his interaction with both Lima and Hailey is a big part of the novel–and one that I really enjoyed–but for me, this book is about a friendship, and I appreciated that. Of course, it’s also about the possibility of watching a friendship come to an end and that was a storyline that really resonated with me. When I was a teenager I had a “best friendship” that slowly dissolved and reading this book took me back to that time. I really connected with Lima as she dealt with all of the emotions that come up when two close friends start to walk down separate paths.
I loved Romano’s descriptions of the beach and the city in this novel. She transported me to the ocean and and at one point my breath almost caught in my throat at her description of the city from an apartment window. I loved that she so easily was able to take me to these places based on her descriptions.
I also appreciated that Lima and Hailey were believable as tenth graders. Sometimes in books (and movies and TV shows) I watch and think, “High school was never like that!” The high school experience is different for everyone, but sometimes I still find the teenage perspective to be a little far-fetched and I loved that this one wasn’t. There are parents that are present and the teenagers need to find a way from Point A to Point B. I loved that authenticity of the novel!
This is a quick read. I loved the shorter chapters, because it was a book that I felt like I could pick up if I only had a short amount of time to get some reading in, and it held my attention all the way through. I really enjoyed watching all of the events unfold and seeing how the characters changed and grew throughout the novel. This is definitely a great summer read for lovers of YA contemporary.
ETA: You can find my follow-up Q&A with the author here.
// There is a little bit of time left to nominate a book club read for May! A voting post will go up on Thursday, April 23rd.