Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More than Fine-Just-Fine: The Truth About Forever


A Review of The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Sometimes, and a book like this is a case in point, I feel like I'm the last person to get around to reading certain books I should have read a long time ago. And even more than that, I wish YA books like this were around when I was in high school.

Because reading about Macy Queen is like reading about myself, with a few exceptions - unfortunately the brilliant hot guy, sensitive artist was one of those exceptions. But seriously, having this book when I was in high school might have made my life at home a little more pleasant.

One morning when she was 16, Macy Queen's dad tried to wake her up for their morning run, but lazy, she just wanted to sleep. Only after he left without her, she couldn't manage to fall back asleep so she got up and started the run late. Too late. Because when she caught up with her dad, he was dying. And later in the hospital when her mother told her the news, that he was gone, everything changed. Her mother cleaned out the house, threw herself into work, and never brought up her father again. Her sister, who was in college, cried enough tears for all of them, and Macy did everything she could to try to be perfect and in control. But the summer before her senior year, when her perfect boyfriend goes to Brain Camp leaving her his job at the info desk at the library with his two perfect condescending counterparts, and her mother starts putting even more hours into working on the new townhomes for the family business, Macy starts to crack. Surprisingly, it's the chaotic catering job Macy takes and the friends she makes who work there, friends with flaws and friends her mother would rather she not have (including the brilliant, hot, and sensitive artist), that help her face the fact that her dad's gone and help her overcome her grief.

Like all of Sarah Dessen's books, there's a balance between humor, depression, anger, and happiness which manages to accurately reflect the real life of a teenager. Each other characters come to life as you read, each of them original and complex, inspiring multiple different emotions at different times. (There were times when I got so angry with Macy's mom I wanted to close the book, and yet I felt sorry for her at the same time.) The plot is simple: a summer before senior year, taking a break from a boyfriend, and getting a new job, overcoming the loss of a parent, but because of the intricate and likable characters, it's all too easy to get sucked in.

At times, the subject matter is deep: Macy's feelings of loss and guilt over her father's death are not easy things for anyone who hasn't experienced them to relate to, yet somehow through Macy's narration, Dessen manages to convey the feelings well. And she handles the topic without the overly emotional, melodramatic angst that's all too easy. Some of the most powerful moments in the story are when Macy is just sitting down and talking - either to Wes, to Kristy, or even to Monica, and they're moments that just feel real, that ring with truth, and that make you feel like you are Macy in that moment.

With that said, it's obvious I really liked and enjoyed the book. But I didn't love it with the same intensity that I love other books. It won't keep me up at night, and I don't have a burning desire to sit down and discuss it with someone. I'm not about to sell it or give it away, but I probably won't reread multiple times either. I guess for me, it's not quite edgy enough. It's a feel good book and better than a lot of what's out there, just not completely five stars.

2 comments:

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I loved this book. It's may favourite of Sarah Dessen's.

Brianne said...

I have yet to read any of her books. My goal this summer is to read atleast one of them, but the list is continuously building.

Great review, by the way. Whether it's this summer or not, I will definately get around to reading this book sometime this year. ;-)

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?