Title: Now & Forever
Author: Susane Colasanti
Release Date: 05/20/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
I have these friends, let’s call them Grace and Amy*. Grace is a children’s book editor and Amy is a high school ESL teacher. Amy is forever mentioning to Grace how her students need high concept, low reading level books since it’s difficult to get high school students to read when all the books for their reading level are about seven-year-olds or whatever. Well Amy, do I have the book for you.
There are a lot of things about Now and Forever that I absolutely hated, but by far the worst thing was the writing. I’ve read one other Susane Colasanti book, All I Need, which I also had issues with, but I don’t remember thinking it was written by a 12-year-old. Allow me to demonstrate what reading this book was like: “Now and Forever is about a girl. The girl’s name is Sterling. Sterling is a senior in high school. Sterling has a boyfriend named Ethan. Ethan dreams of being a rock star. Ethan starts to get famous.” It’s not just me, right? That’s annoying? As I was reading I just kept thinking that if Susane Colasanti had any finesse or maturity to her writing five or six or seven of the sentences I was reading could easily have been combined into one or two.
The writing was hands down the must frustrating part of this reading experience, it was like I was reading the world’s longest picture book that was missing the pictures, but that certainly wasn’t the only problem. Sterling is a bit of an enigma. During the book she’s in her senior year of high school and she has two major interests: correcting bad grammar and cooking. I’ll be the first person to admit that bad grammar drives me batty, but Sterling takes it to a whole other level. She’s constantly telling people in stores why their signs are wrong and she carries around a Sharpie to do her own gorilla corrections to signs. I suppose this could possibly be interpreted as charming, but really I just wanted to tell Sterling to calm down and stop being an a-hole (she’s obviously never heard the expression it’s better to be happy than right). Sterling’s other interest is cooking. Her grandmother taught her to cook and she is apparently a renowned baker in her town. So much so that she apparently bakes enough to be able to sell hundreds of baked goods at a town celebration.
The other odd thing about Sterling is that when she grows up she wants to be a book publisher. Not work for a book publisher, but be a book publisher. As someone who worked in publishing I’m familiar with this job, but I was surprised that Sterling was. I was also surprised, given her grammar Nazism, that she didn’t want to be a copyeditor or an editor. Especially since becoming a book publisher requires many years spent in lesser positions. Not to mention that prior to the last year, when Sterling found her calling in grammar, she hated school and didn’t do so well. Yet that hasn’t stopped her from applying to schools like Princeton and Yale.
Unfortunately Sterling’s romance with Ethan did not help things. At first the relationship was a little cute, but it soon became sickeningly cute. I tried to tell myself that I’m single and bitter and old and these are two kids in love, but it was just too much. Ethan’s lines were cheesy and fake and I felt bad for Sterling that she believed stuff he was saying (although to Ethan and Colasanti’s credit for much of the book I think Ethan believed them too). Sterling also thought this truly awful thing when Ethan would say something vomit-inducing to her. Depending on where she was she would think “Melting. In. The lobby” or “Melting. In. The Car” or “Melting. In. Shake Shack” (they really liked Shake Shack). Maybe Ethan wasn’t a bad guy, but his ambition and focus were a turnoff for me and I never took any interest in Sterling and Ethan’s romance, which meant another nail in the coffin for this one.
I swear that in an earlier description there was mention of another interest for Sterling, a guy involved in Ethan’s tour. There’s no mention of that in the description on Goodreads now, but I still kept waiting for it to happen. And when it did happen it didn’t make the book any better. Even though I didn’t buy into Sterling and Ethan’s relationship I still wasn’t ok with Sterling essentially emotionally cheating on Ethan. I found Sterling’s relationship with the roadie pretty unbelievable, I just didn’t see either of them taking an interest in each other and when it comes down to it they barely knew each other, but quickly became pretty obsessed with each other. And the ending, oh god, thank goodness I am not into spoiling books because you do not want to get me started on that ending.
Maybe at this point you’re wondering if there is anything good about this book? Yes, two things. First, the basic idea for the story, a girl’s boyfriend is suddenly famous and she needs to navigate a new world. I still like the premise even though Susane Colasanti did her best to ruin it for me. Second, each chapter opens with the current number of followers Ethan has (not clear if it was Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), but that was a really great way to quantify and show Ethan’s rapid rise to fame.
Bottom Line: Susane Colasanti we are done. I read one of your books and didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, but after this one I am done with you now and forever. I know you’re popular so I thought I’d give you another shot, but wow, what a mistake that was. The writing here was so atrocious that I am embarrassed for everyone involved with this book. Not to mention that the characters and story just fell completely flat. Do. Not. Read. This.
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* These are their real names