Book Review: The Truth About Forever

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Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: 05/09/04
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Description: A long, hot summer…That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father. But sometimes unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

Thoughts: This is one of those books that made me feel like a poser YA fan. I’ve read, and enjoyed, other Sarah Dessen books, but I feel like this is the one that everyone universally loves. Because it came out 10 years ago I’m almost having a difficult time reviewing it. I feel like if I had read this book 10 years ago not only would newly-turned 19-years-old Maggie have a very different view, but YA was in a very different place. It almost seems unfair to review the book now, even though I really liked and I feel like it easily stands the test of time.

Time is something I thought a lot about while reading. While 2004 might not seem that long ago to some of us, it was kind of a long time ago. Macy, the main character, has a cell phone, but it barely figures into the story. There’s email, but not a lot of other references to technology. At one point one of the characters wants to get home to watch a TV show and I thought “what about DVR?” But maybe the most striking difference was how Macy was one of three people working at a library information desk. Three people? A library information desk? How times have changed.

The library is kind of where the story starts. It’s the beginning of the summer and Macy, the main character, is getting ready to take over her boyfriend’s job at the library information desk. The boyfriend, Jason, is going away to Brain Camp and that about sums Jason up. He’s the “perfect” guy: he gets good grades, he volunteers, and he has a solid plan for the future, but he’s also boring as all get out. That said, after Macy’s dad died she needed someone solid and stable she could latch onto who gave her a purpose (perfection).

Macy needs this because her family is kind of in disarray. Her mother never dealt with her father’s death, rather than mourning she got rid of all her husband’s things and threw herself into work. Macy’s older sister, the former rebellious daughter, has married a wealthy older (well 10 years older, but as we’ve established 10 years is a long time) man and is now a lady of leisure in Atlanta (Macy lives in North Carolina). Macy is so scared of everything and closed off to everyone that she doesn’t even realize it. Then she meets the crew of Wish Catering when they’re working at one of her mother’s parties. She’s intrigued by their chaotic work habits and wacky personalities and soon she finds herself with a job and new friends.

One of the guys Macy works with is Wes, who is quiet and mysterious, but so much better than the dark, quiet, mysterious guy who’s so popular in YA/NA today. Even though Wes has a mildly troubled past and some family tragedy he doesn’t really have anything in common with today’s cliche leading men. Wes is a sculptor (loved that) and also has real substance. I really dislike how the description says he has a “taste for Truth-telling,” that line actually stopped me from reading the book for a while because it sounded so cheesy! But it’s not cheesy at all. Wes and Macy play a game called “Truth” which is kind of like Truth or Dare but without the dares.

Since Macy is still dating Jason it made Wes and Macy’s relationship just a friendship for most of the book. I don’t love a love triangle, but this one was ok with me. There were some moments where I wished Wes and Macy would just get together already, but I also really enjoyed watching their friendship grow and especially the rounds of Truth they would play. Overall I thought Dessen had the perfect blend between Macy living her life and Macy interacting with Wes. Although I did think that at the end her family issues wrapped up a little too nicely and the story as a whole was kind of rushed.

Bottom Line: I’m so happy I finally read The Truth About Forever, it did not disappoint. Even though it came out 10 years ago the characters and themes in this one are still so relevant. Watching Macy evolve from this closed off safe girl, to someone who goes after what she wants was not only fun, but also powerfull. If you’re like I was and are waiting for “someday” to pick this one up I suggest reading it sooner rather than later.

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