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Author: Juliana Romano
Release date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, eBook


Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door, Juliana Romano’s expressive debut is an absorbing and bittersweet story about first love, first loss, and the friends that carry us through it all.

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.


NOTE: This review is based on a finished copy received in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.

The Review

Juliana Romano’s FIRST THERE WAS FOREVER is captivating and beautifully written, a blend of sad and sweet, and with this wonderful, haunting quality to it deriving from the way the author uses her words to describe what her character Lima is seeing and feeling. It’s a story about friendship and love, growing up and growing apart, having to make hard choices, and facing the consequences of those decisions. It’s a story that’s light enough to be the perfect summer read and weighty enough to be a memorable one.

Ever since school started Lima has felt like she’s been losing her best friend. Hailey is spending more time with Skyler and less time with her, doing things she doesn’t feel like doing, and saying things that don’t feel at all like something a friend would say. So when Hailey’s long-time crush, Nate Reed, starts to pay attention to her and not Hailey, she doesn’t push him away far enough. Or keep him away.

As long as they are just friends and Hailey isn’t acting like one, she could sort of convince herself she isn’t doing anything wrong. But when things with Nate turn into something more and Hailey suddenly wants to be friends again, she can’t continue to lie to herself. Or to Hailey. She’ll have to come clean or break things off with Nate and in doing so risk losing one or both of them.

Author Juliana Romano created a story that goes beyond the typical “girl falls in love with best friend’s love interest, betrays best friend, loses best friend” plot. Her main character, Lima, is interesting and fascinating and unique. The way she sees herself, sees others, and looks at life is refreshingly different. There is something more mature and yet more innocent, more introspective, more thoughtful, more centered about her. She’s not someone who’s chasing popularity or following the crowd or obsessed with her looks. She’s genuine and down to earth, but flawed just enough to be relatable and still very much likable.

The author introduces a few other quirky and intriguing and glamorous characters readers will want to get know. She paints the most gorgeous pictures that invite readers into her story and make them get lost there for awhile. She gives them something to think about while they’re there, with the decisions Lima makes and doesn’t make. And she makes them sympathize with her character for what she risks losing, what she has lost, and what can never be undone.

FIRST THERE WAS FOREVER will grab hold instantly, has a quick pace, delivers an emotional and heartfelt story that is both sweet and bittersweet, has an array of appealing characters, and some truly fantastic writing. For fans of the genre and for those looking for an enchanting and relatable and engaging read, Juliana Romano’s debut is a story not to be missed.

The Rating


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