FOREVER IS THE WORST LONG TIME, by
PUBLICATION: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING; FEBRUARY 7, 2017
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.
As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.
When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.
This novel is told from James’ point of view and his character is well-developed. At times I found him too self-deprecating, but that seemed to improve over the course of the novel. James experiences many highs and many lows, but a solid theme in the novel is one that he missed on some relationships and experiences because of the way he put Lou on a pedestal. I started out liking Rob and Lou separate and as a couple, but she quickly went from being very interesting, creative and independent to terminally unhappy and Rob showed an incredibly selfish side. Rob was aware of Lou’s unhappiness but unwilling to really work at the relationship, as to where James would have ripped out one of his organs and handed to it her if she had requested that he do so. When Nora is introduced into the story, I was sort of on the fence about her, but I ended up really appreciating the dynamics between her and James, especially towards the ending.
Forever is the Worst Long Time has a completely “rip your heart out” turn of events and I will admit that I shed several tears reading it. And FYI, I will cry at the drop of the hat whether it’s a movie or just a commercial, but I rarely cry while reading. Anyway, it was a completely unexpected twist in the plot and honestly broke my heart, but I love that the author put as positive a spin on it that she could – making it more of a dedication and lesson, rather than just focusing on the sadness. I took away several things from reading this novel, but mainly that love can change or be different than what we expected, but it is still love. Also, not all families look the same. There doesn’t have to be a married couple with children in order to make a family, it’s who we choose to keep closest to us and those that mean the most. Finally, forgiveness – both wishing for it or wishing you could give it – is a prominent theme in the novel. Although often easier said than done, the author painted a wonderful picture of the joy and peace that comes along with forgiving and being forgiven.
Camille Pagán has forever touched me with this story and it is now on my list of all-time favorite novels. The development of the characters and the raw emotion that was conveyed made this a delight to read. The plot was well-developed with surprises, celebrations and disappointments, but wasn’t overdone with unnecessary events or characters. This novel left me feeling that good things happen in our lives, as well as, bad things, but what we do with our life overall and the love that we give and receive is what ultimately matters.
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.