The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published: May 11, 2004 by Penguin
Source: Purchased from bookstore
A long, hot summer...All my reviews for a Dessen book begin by professing my love and admiration for an author who writes such spot-on YA contemporaries. This review will follow suit because once again, she's captured all the right ingredients for what makes my heart sa-woon for contemporary YA!
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? [goodreads]
Macy is the type of girl who lives by a plan, scheduling everything just so, right down to what she'll wear the next day. It's easier this way when things are mapped out ahead of time, better to avoid the unexpected and be prepared. But this organized, planner attitude she's crafted is shot into over drive when her father suddenly dies, and the weight of being "fine, just fine" falls on her shoulders. She's created the image of being perfect, and is expecting her summer to carry out this perfect image just as she's planned it to be. But then the unexpected happens, and sometimes you can't always plan everything. Sometimes, things are out of our control, and we must roll with the punches in order to survive.
I struggled a lot with Macy's character in this story, but not because she wasn't well-developed, or because I didn't like her -- it was for the complete opposite, actually. I struggled with her need to always be perfect, even when her world had been completely turned upside down. I struggled with her choices she thought she had to make, and her will to keep quiet. I felt myself wanting to shake Macy, showing her that life doesn't always have a plan, and that's OK. I wanted to stand up for her when others didn't understand her quiet grief. The constant connection carried me through this story.
A characteristic of Dessen writing that I can always count on, are her well-developed, engaging secondary characters. When Macy finds herself working for the Wish catering company, I completely fell in love with the friends she made there. Then of course, there was the boy. Sa-woon! Wes stole scene after scene. His easy-going, quiet friendship moved in on Macy and showed her the truth to opening up to someone. I adored their interactions, and really appreciated the presence that Wes brought to Macy's life.
This story is a deeper read for the summer-time, but it's one not to pass up. I found myself noting page after page, at all the beautiful words that littered this heart-felt story. Seeing Macy's character evolve in a summer she thought she had planned out, broke my heart a little, but was slowly mended back together through the unforgettable friendships she made, and the realizations she came to. If you have not read a Dessen book, this is a great starting point. It highlights so much of what I love in her YA contemporaries.