Today I am a stop on the Always Forever Maybe Blog Tour!
It’s an emotional read about abuse in a relationship and I share some rambling (but hopefully coherent) thoughts on the topic, so keep reading!
Always Forever Maybe
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.
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.
The Rambling Thoughts of This Reader...
When I first read the synopsis of Always Forever Maybe, a million post ideas ran through my head for this. Now, as I sit here trying to write down exactly what I want to say, I am struggling. This book and its subject matter is a tough one, both to read and to write about...especially if you’ve lived it or are currently living it.
Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea, I was never in a controlling or possessive relationship like the one portrayed in the book...no, I was the friend who wanted to help, the family member who watched a loved one suffer at the hands of her abuser, the one who always said, “That won’t be me” and still prays it never is.
But I can easily understand how it could happen...even more so now that I am an adult than when I was a teen and that’s what is so hard for me about abuse in teen relationships. Because many teens don’t get it, they don’t see or know the signs because no one has told them or they interpret them as something else. Some long for any attention or affection and sometimes that comes with a price...sometimes they tell, sometimes they don’t. And occasionally friends don’t want to get involved or don’t want to ruin a friendship or are unsure themselves of what’s going on so they stay quiet, too. Like I did...a decision I still regret all of these years later.
Guess I better start at the beginning with that one. I knew a girl in elementary school who became more of a friend in middle school. We weren’t super close, but we had lunch and gym together so we would hang out and talk then. Around this time Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg had a movie out called Fear about a teen girl who gets involved with an older boy who ends up being possessive and abusive (this movie was actually the very first thing I thought of reading the synopsis for Always Forever Maybe). While I absolutely hated the Wahlberg character, my friend loved him and thought he was so sexy and romantic. He was an abusive jerk, I would say and she’d counter with, but he loved her a lot. I was left wondering if we saw the same movie. Then it clicked...my friend had an older boyfriend, one she rarely talked about, but everyone at school knew about. Could he be like Wahlberg’s character? I dismissed the thought because surely my friend would’ve said something or left him or something. I began paying more attention to things after that. Small bruises on her arms and legs...I bruise easy, she’d say. A few weeks later, she came to school with her arm in a brace and a black eye...a door she said. I finally called her out on the lie and asked her who hurt her and she told me it was him, but her parents had pressed charges so it was over. She was also moving. I felt terrible for not voicing my suspicions to someone before it had gotten to this point and told her so. She said that it wouldn’t have mattered because no one would’ve believed me without proof and she would’ve just lied...she still loved him. She moved a few weeks later and I never saw her again. But I still wonder about her.
I can’t help but also wonder if she and other teens would have benefited from one of the best college classes I ever took: Self Defense. Yes, I learned ways to defend myself against would-be attackers, but we also spent a lot of time discussing a topic you wouldn’t think you’d need to know about in this type of class...abuse in relationships. We learned warning signs to look for in people we date, warning signs in other people’s relationships, where and how to get help for ourselves and others, and so much more. We shared personal stories and it opened my eyes to things that I might not have realized were warning signs before. It also gave me a better understanding of those who stay in abusive relationships and the cycle these types of relationships creates. My only regret is that I didn’t get this information until my 20s...I believe that teens, especially those who date, could really benefit from of all of this info and I hope there are programs that provide it.
Earlier I mentioned the film Fear, and how the synopsis of the book reminded me of it, there is another movie I want to bring up because it brings to light the fact that it’s not just females who are the victims, for lack of a better word, in abusive relationships. Years ago, network TV stations would air “Movies of the Week” that were like Lifetime movies, but better (in my opinion). There is one that has stuck with me since I was a child...Men Don’t Tell. In the film, the husband is being physically abused by the wife but no one believes it and he gets blamed because he is the male in the relationship. It takes the couple’s daughter asking if Mommy was going to get in trouble for hurting Daddy for people to finally start to understand what’s really happening. This film struck a chord with itty bitty kid me and stuck with me for years because it is one of the first times where I had seen them portray the man as the victim. It’s important and I wanted to mention it because we often forget that guys can also be victims of abusive relationships as well and deserve the same help and consideration as girls.
There are so many examples of toxic, unhealthy, and/or abusive relationships portrayed on television, in film, and in books. If you find yourself in a situation that you feel may be dangerous or unhealthy, I hope you know that you are not alone. There are ways to get help. YOU ARE WORTH IT!