Title: Forever My Girl
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.
I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I’ve poured my soul into my music, but I’ve never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile.
And now I’m going back.
After ten years.
I hope I can explain that after all this time.
I still want her to be my forever girl.
Forever My Girl is a cliche love story between a cheerleader and football player turned musician years after they graduate high school. Despite the small twists presented in the novel, I couldn’t get past the cliche romance of two stereotypically “hot” people, and the degradation of women throughout.
Full Review (Contains Spoilers)
Forever My Girl was turned into a movie that released on January 19,2018, and due to recent hype surrounding this novel, I just had to read it. However, it did not live up to my expectations.
Our “heroes” of the novel are Liam and Josie, an all American couple consisting of a cheerleader and football player. However, the novel takes place many years into the future after Liam dumps Josie and cuts all ties with her to pursue his music career. Well, surprise, surprise, Liam ends up becoming famous, but still holds onto his passion for Josie. He also manages to criticize every girl he meets along the way due to the way she dresses, the makeup she wears, or what her body type is. Following the death of his former high school buddy, Liam returns to his small town in the hopes of seeing Josie again only to find that she has a son – of whom he is the father of. However, Josie is now engaged to another guy who they went to high school and whom Liam accuses of always trying to steal his girl. Yet, Liam doesn’t take into account the fact that Liam left Josie in the dust without a good reason or sense of closure. The rest of the novel is followed by a defamation of Josie’s current fiance (Nick), and Liam swooping in to finally take care of a son who he just met by throwing money around.
Okay, I am not necessarily against the cheerleader/football player love story, but this novel didn’t work more me. Heidi McLaughlin tried to take this cliche couple and age progress them, but she ended up just making them older, with the same teenage attitudes that they had before. Even though I knew that I should have been rooting for Liam and Josie to get back together, I couldn’t help but be on Nick’s side. Nick helped Josie raise her son for 6 years before Liam returned, and as soon as Liam returned, Nick was made the villain for “stealing” Liam’s girl. All the readers are offered in this context were small angry outbursts from Nick before he is written out of the plot completely by suddenly leaving Josie. Also, Liam mentions that his and Josie’s son, Noah, never asks about Nick once he leaves, despite Nick having raised Noah for 6 years. This was completely unbelievable to me, and it seemed to be a cheap trick that McLaughlin used to create a setting that was perfect for Liam and Josie to get back together. McLaughlin also didn’t write Noah properly since she gave him the dialogue of a 20-year-old and makes him unbelievably passive throughout the complete change he experiences in his home life. After Nick leaves, Josie moves in with Liam in the house he was just able to buy out of nowhere in their small town. Even though this was a “happily ever after” novel, it was unrealistic and filled with multiple bouts of weeping and plot holes that did nothing to progress the novel forward.
I also need to address the issue from Liam’s perspective. The fact that Forever My Girl was written by a woman disturbs me, considering throughout the novel Liam tells the reader how a woman should and shouldn’t look or act. McLaughlin goes on to describe in detail how a woman shouldn’t “try too hard”, but how she needs to be skinny and well kept at all times. I honestly felt like Liam’s character was judging me throughout the novel with his multiple criticisms of women. Liam was also a self-pitying character, and I didn’t find him attractive at all. He was manipulative of Josie, yet McLaughlin tried to make the reader feel bad for him. Nevermind the fact that he dumped Josie without warning and cut all ties with her, yet he is angry when he finds out that she had his son without telling him. To be honest, if this book was not being turned into a movie, I would not have finished it.
While Forever My Girl tries to capture the all American romance in a new light, I found it to be cliched and outdated. The shaming of women throughout each chapter sat wrong with me, and I do not recommend this novel due to the derogatory language used when speaking of women. I am saddened that this is the first review where I have not been able to recommend the book to anyone. I just cannot support a book that belittles females across the board. The editing was also poor, and numerous spelling and grammar errors were spotted throughout. Forever My Girl is officially my lowest rated novel receiving 1 out of 5 stars.