TITLE: The Truth About Forever
AUTHOR: Sarah Dessen
GENRE: YA Contemporary
FORMAT: Hardcover, 376 Pages (2004)
The pursuit of perfection is something Macy knows by heart. She strives to be the perfect student, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect daughter, to the point that she can barely remember who the real girl is underneath. Deep inside, the real Macy is weighted with guilt and regret, still grieving in the wake of her father’s death and feeling disconnected from everyone and everything. But this is the summer when Macy will learn to let go — to be her true self, and to live fearlessly, despite how unpredictable and imperfect life can be.
So! This was my first ever Sarah Dessen book, recommended to me by the lovely Ana at Anahera Reads when I was looking around for a good YA Contemporary for this event. I have to admit that I’ve been hesitant to try this author’s books for YEARS. I came in half expecting something insubstantial and/or hormonal to the extreme, but my perceptions were completely changed by the time I turned the last page. Well, long before that, actually. The fact that I loved this book so much is kind of crazy, because I am definitely not a big contemporary reader, and definitely not in the YA genre. I’ve mentioned before that I find it hard to enjoy contemporary books because they just don’t seem like enough of an escape for me, but I am now making an exception for Sarah Dessen.
… Actually, this book kind of sent me on a crazy Dessen binge. I HAVE NO REGRETS. The Truth About Forever surprised me with its candid look at grief, the vibrance and believability of its characters, and the small, poignant moments that I still haven’t forgotten even weeks after reading it.
I love this book for its realistic take on what being a teenager is like. Since I read a lot of YA, the average age range is anywhere between 15-19 years old, and not every book has a believable take on being that age. Maybe my own experience with being in high school was the most grossly unexciting thing ever, but sometimes I run into teenaged characters who do things or live these lifestyles that seem so farfetched. Macy, however, is someone you can easily accept as being 17 years old, in that final summer before senior year and dealing with issues that are both relevant and understandable. Grief is such a powerful force, and it has shaped the way she’s been living her life. She was a character I sympathized with, but also a character I wanted to hug REALLY HARD. I liked her immediately. And I was thrilled to see that the teenagers in this book weren’t living this constant dramafest 24/7, with hookups and breakups and some new *disaster* every 5 minutes. They were just ordinary people.
In fact, I think it would be pretty accurate to say that it’s the art of finding meaning in the ordinary and the everyday that makes Sarah Dessen’s writing so easy to enjoy and identify with. I’m figuring that out with every Dessen book I read. Her stories are warm and inviting, but not superficial in any way. And the thing is, even though reading this book was a lot like watching a feel-good movie, and even though some things were predictable in the way feel-good movies usually are, I didn’t care. I liked it anyway. It was comforting, a lot like sitting down at Starbucks with an old friend and just talking for hours.
Also, Wes. I loved Wes. I loved the entire cast, really. Minus Jason, but you aren’t really supposed to love him, and I mostly felt sorry for the guy. The book is full of people you can’t help liking. They’re funny, memorable, and have really distinct personalities. Their interactions and relationships with one another were so natural. The writer has a gift for creating characters you could easily picture living next door, waving to you from their driveway, and she even makes you wish you could really wave back.
The Truth About Forever is the story of one summer, with all its small joys and sorrows. It’s the little things that all add up to a bigger picture, for Macy and for the reader. It made me smile, but it also made me think, and because of that I decided I was okay with the story being a bit predictable. After all, there’s something about knowing exactly where you’re going and how to get there, and sometimes it’s nice to have a book hold your hand and make you feel like you’re home. I highly recommend it, and Sarah Dessen in general, whether you’re a big fan of contemporary or a stranger to it like I was.