Title: FirstThere Was Forever
Author: Juliana Romano
Publisher: Dial Books
About: Lima and Hailey have always been best friends: Lima shy and sensitive, Hailey funny and free-spirited. But Hailey abandons Lima to party with the popular kids and pursue Nate, her disinterested crush. As their friendship falters, Lima and Nate begin spending more time together. And before Lima knows what she’s feeling, she and Nate do something irreversible. Something that would hurt Hailey....if she knew it happened.Lima thinks she’s saving her friendship by lying, but she’s only buying time. As the secrets stack up, Lima is forced to make a choice: between her best friend forever, and the boy who wasn’t meant to be hers.
The description of this book doesn’t really do it justice. Lima and Hailey have been best friends forever. When we come into the story, Hailey has gotten closer with another girl in their class, Skyler, and is distancing herself from Lima while sometimes still being really clingy (and terrible). Amidst this, Lima finds herself falling in with these twins that everyone at school thinks are weird. And they are. They have a sort of put on sophistication where they’re above it all, but they take Lima in and they’re good to her for a while. While Hailey is being super obvious in her intentions to get Nate, he rebuffs her every time and starts casually running into Lima. I feel like the book's description makes it sound like they got drunk at a party and hooked up, but there’s a genuine relationship that develops before anything happens between them.
I don’t read cheating books that often, and I would argue that this is not a cheating book, but it’s still something that forces you in your gut to choose sides. Does it suck that Hailey liked Nate and he and Lima got together? Yes. But I found the most terrible part of all of this how Hailey treats Lima even before anything is going on with Nate. And part of that is just being in high school and hanging out with different crowds and growing apart. The other part is Hailey is a nightmare bitch to be around. She invites Lima places and then ignores her. She gets pissed at her and then two days later is all, ‘I don’t know what came over me, you know I love you’ blah blah blah. She’s practically part of Lima’s family, but then doesn’t go to her grandmother’s funeral because she wants to go to a party that Nate might be at. She’s a bitch and I didn’t even really feel that bad that Lima and Nate’s friendship was turning into something more. Towards the end I just wanted Lima to tell Hailey because in my gut I just wanted to see if their friendship would make it through this (and I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t).
There’s something sort of dream like about Romano’s writing coupled with the California settings of this book. It sort of lets you see this story from a distance, while still being very much wrapped up in it. I feel like the settings really influenced these characters and their goings on: from Lima’s beachfront house to the twins’s glamorous but empty house up in the Hollywood Hills, to Lima’s aunt’s house in Santa Barbara. It was perfect. I really enjoyed this debut from Romano and will definitely be keeping an eye out for her next project.