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Monday, November 03, 2008

Forever My Lady

****½ Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera. YA.

When Forever My Lady opens, Dio is preparing to interrupt the wedding of his true love Jennifer--with a gun. Then we back up a year to find out how he got to that point.

Dio is a 17-year-old gang member whose life changes when Jennifer ends up in the hospital with several gunshot wounds and Dio ends up in a prison boot camp.

Most of the story takes place at the boot camp, as Dio goes from surly and uncooperative to making friends and becoming competitive and determined to succeed. Through it all, his desire for a better life with Jennifer is his driving force.

The descriptions of his life in the boot camp are interspersed with memories and letters to and from Jennifer, and as the book progresses, you can see his growth both in the things he does and in the way he writes about them.

Boot camp was very vivid, particularly at the beginning, when it was all new to Dio. And it was very familiar. I kept thinking "and I volunteered for this?" (I went through army basic training--boot camp--O. M. G.--25 years ago, almost to the day. I hadn't realized it was that long.)

Dio's emotions and motivations were very clear, and right there on the page. I was moved to tears at several points, particularly when as an adult--or simply a reader, seeing things from the outside--I could see what was going to happen, but knew that given his personality and emotions, there was no way to avoid the upcoming pain or heartache.

Huge kudos to Jeff Rivera for treating Dio and Jennifer's emotions with the seriousness they deserved. So often, a teenage love affair is treated like puppy love, when that time of life is when emotions tend to be most intense. Plus, given these characters' backgrounds, they were certainly not children.

My only complaint is that the ending was just a little quick and easy. Maybe it needed to be that way, to fit with the beginning, and after all, Dio did do his soul-searching earlier. But it's not a big complaint--I love the way it ended, I'd just have liked the ending to be a couple of pages longer, is all.

I'll definitely be watching for Jeff Rivera's future books.

For an interview with the author, and a chance to win a copy of the book, go here.

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Wow! Thank you so much for the great review, Darla! -- Jeff Rivera (Author of FOREVER MY LADY)
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