Tess is just trying to survive high school and life with her mother until she can take off for Paris and never look back. But when her mother takes off with yet another soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, Tess is left to fend for herself. Somehow she has to manage rent, food, utilities, and homework, and it's not like her mom left her anything to make it easier. But then the boyfriend's son Cruz shows up, ready to look out for her, pitch in any way he can, and make her heart beat entirely too fast.
The Verdict: Forever Now is by no means a light read, but that's a big part of what makes it such a fascinating story.
High school student Tess has little to cherish in life. Her mother is beyond horrible, and Tess spends most of her time daydreaming and trying to remain invisible. She dreams of being a writer, of studying in Paris and escaping the non-life she's been living for so long, but sometimes those dreams seem entirely out of reach.
Her mother, a serial dater and all around despicable human being, treats her with contempt. So it would seem like a good thing when her mother takes off for Mexico without her, but she's left Tess without any way to get by on her own. The rent is overdue, the fridge is near empty, and she's even emptied the apparently not secret stash of cash Tess has been saving from her babysitting gig. But the boyfriend her mom ran off with has a son, an aspiring model close to Tess's age who steps up to get her through.
Cruz is the hottest guy that Tess has ever seen, and she's crushing hard. But she's not outspoken with her feelings — or really with much of anything — and Cruz is surrounded by other models to whom Tess can't hope to even compare. However, the real obstacle is simply their circumstances. Tess still has to go to class and pretend that everything's fine at home if she wants to avoid the foster system. And Cruz, for all his knight in shining armor intentions, is also just a teenage boy struggling to get by. He has to compromise himself just to get a job that might keep them fed, and without money enough for even a movie, romance doesn't bloom easily.
The relationship between Tess and Cruz is sad and sweet and heartbreaking to witness, but they're clearly destined for more than just dependence on each other to survive. It's so much more than friendship and crushes; it's a true need and love for each other. When Tess's mother returned and Cruz disappeared for a bit, I was probably just as torn apart as Tess was, especially since the awesome best friend Dahlia wasn't around to brighten things up.
The story didn't exactly end on a cliffhanger, but it definitely left me wanting more. Normally this would be a big issue, but since this is the first of three books, I kind of expected it. Forever Now is a very different, incredibly moving take on young adult romance, and it's the kind of book that keeps me hooked on this genre despite my age. If you're looking for something sweet and gritty and genuinely romantic, give this one shot — and then join me in line for the next book!