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The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever is one of the first books by Sarah Dessen that I read. The first thing I fell in love with was the title, the second was the cover (I know, but still), and before I could think about anything the story had completely sucked me in.
Macy is not perfect. This might seem obvious, but as she goes deeper into her life, taking us along through agile and concise flashbacks, we see that perfection is by no means an anomaly in Macy's existence. Her boyfriend is the most obvious example: Jason is exhaustingly academic, well-rounded, eternally clean, and so politely careful that the reader will be rolling their eyes in exasperation every time his name is mentioned. (I'm serious.) Macy, however, is grateful for the sense of security that the blandly consistent Jason adds to her reeling life.
About three years before the start of a novel, Macy's father--a running coach--went for his early-morning run, which Macy usually joined him on. That day, though, she stayed in bed. Five minutes later, when she dragged herself out of the house to go after him, he'd had a heart attack and died at the hospital soon after. She gave up running, which had been her passion for years, completely, and her life was at a standstill. And that was where Jason came in.
But this summer, Jason has left for Brain Camp, and Macy's left at home with her strict, work-obsessed mother. This changes when she's offered a job at Wish, a topsy-turvy catering company. Her job at the library info desk--filling in for Jason--proves to be utterly boring, and Macy lets herself be absorbed into the comforting chaos of Wish.
There she joins Delia, the hugely pregnant owner; Kristy, who's a little older than Macy and obsessed with fashion (in a good way); Monica--aka Monotone--who has three phrases: bettaquit, mmmm-hmmm, and donneven; Bert, an EOW (end-of-worlder; obsessed with armageddon); and his brother Wes, who can be described in one word: sa-woon.
Macy is not a romantic heroine, though. She plays Truth with Wes all summer instead of dumping Jason (who suggested they "take a break" after Macy signed an email with "I love you") to be with the "tortured artist", as she describes Wes. Foreshadowing has us constantly waiting for a Moment between Wes and Macy. Although Sarah Dessen supplies many Perfect Opportunities, she knows just when to let them pass to keep her readers waiting.
The content of this book isn't that mature. Grief, love, and teenage angst play major parts in the story, but they are handled in a way that readers will only get out of the book what they can deal with. Macy does attend one underage-drinking party: Although it's completely out of the ordinary for her and she does get grounded by her mom, the party itself isn't described in a negative light. Something to think about. I recommend Forever for ages 13 and up: Younger readers may lose interest as the book is slower-paced.
Other things I like about this book:
The contrasting themes: Macy's home life is pristine and orderly, which makes her time at Wish louder, brighter, and more appealing.
The cover, again, is quite romantic and perfect for its audience, as are the pictures on all of Sarah Dessen's books.
Macy and Wes's game of Truth is very fun to read about. Another game that runs throughout the book is "Gotcha", which is exactly what it sounds like: Wes and Bert are constantly trying to scare each other, and Macy is inadvertently drawn into their efforts.
Macy's memories play a fairly large part in the story. Although it may take a minute for the reader to adjust to the current setting, these flashbacks generally aren't confusing, and add a lot to the book.