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Trigger Warnings: Police brutality, racism, death, mental health problems, panic disorders, agoraphobia, biphobia.
Positive Representation: Black joy, queer and LGBTQ, non-binary, positive mental health management experience.
Can we start by talking about the cover of this book? Forever is Now is definitely a book you can judge by its cover. It is simply gorgeous.
I don’t think it is an exaggeration to state that this book is important. Forever is Now is a YA novel in verse that I feel many adults, people who survived the pandemic with some scars, and anyone who has ever experienced anxiety, will find joy in. And will probably also cry over.
Our main character, Sadie, is a Black teenager living in the historically Black neighbourhood of Oakland, California. This is a neighbourhood that in reality and in the story is dealing with gentrification. With that comes an increased police presence and looming threat of violence. We join Sadie right in the middle of getting dumped by her girlfriend when they witness an act of police brutality (Note: the victim survives with minor injury.) The trauma of this event causes Sadie’s already diagnosed anxiety disorder to spiral. We follow her over the summer as her plans change and she wrestles with what happened and how she can help within the constraints of her own debilitating mental health problems. And ultimately the reader sees how her activism helps her to move forward and find comfort and community.
Mariama J. Lockington effortlessly guides us through joyfulness, challenges and different expressions of love, using rhythm and page layout to mimic the timbre of the emotions her characters would be feeling. Set in the context of the BLM movement and in the wake of the lockdowns, Forever is Now is incredibly raw but also cathartic, grounding, and in some ways, gently soothing. I have passages marked to return to on days when I’m feeling anxious or full of existential dread.
If you have had your own struggles with anxiety, with the lockdowns or you just need a gentle hug from your next read then I strongly recommend checking Forever Is Now out of your local library or picking up a copy from your local bookstore.