Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Fiction
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen has a dull summer ahead of her — her boyfriend as at camp and she’s working at the library and studying for the SAT. Macy is also dealing with her father’s recent, unexpected death, as is her mother. A few weeks into the summer Macy gets offered a job with the Wish Catering crew, a messy and chaotic bunch exactly opposite of her stiff and organized family. Soon, she’s finding out more about herself and the cute new guy Wes who helps Macy think about her life in a new way.
Review: This is the second book in the Sisterhood of the Summer Book Reviews between my sister Jenny and I. Like we did with The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, we e-mailed back and forth. Here’s our discussion on Jenny’s favorite book, The Truth About Forever:
Jenny: What do you think of Macy as a heroine for young teens?
Kim: I wouldn’t call Macy a heroine necessarily, but I can’t say that I object to her or think she’s damaging in some way (like I’d argue about Bella from Twilight). Macy was honest and funny, but also not perfect. The issues she was going through — struggling with control and perfection and grief — were portrayed in a way that didn’t make them feel melodramatic. So I liked her.
Jenny: What do you think of what I would consider my favorite book (at the moment, favorites can always change)?
Kim: In terms of this kind of book — YA chick lit — I thought it was decent. What tends to bother me about these kinds of books is that smooth everything out — any conflict or drama that was happening seems to be solved by finding a boyfriend and having a superficial apology/epiphany with family or friends. By the time you get to the end everything is back to being perfect, and that’s grown to bother me because it’s just not realistic.
This book didn’t do this as badly as some other books because, although most things get wrapped up, the book leaves you with some unanswered questions. I dunno, if I were going to make an analogy I’d say most YA chick lit is like a professional wrapped present, whereas this book was more like the wrapping I can do — adequate, but certainly not pretty enough that you feel bad ripping into the wrapping paper.
Kim: Is that analogy ridiculous?
Jenny: It is a little ridiculous, but you know it is not a bad analogy and I completely understand where you are coming from. As I have gotten older the idea that all of the chick lit romance books and movies end in a happy neat package has started to bother me. Not nearly as much as it does you, that I know, but at least more then it did when I was a young adult who was more in love with a good love story than just a good story in general.
Kim: What about this book do you think is so awesome that makes it one of your favorites?
Jenny: As far as why I like this book as much as I do, the main reason is because I like the way Sarah Dessen tries to teach a lesson that is a little bigger than just “boys solve your problems” or “believe in yourself and you will go far.” With this book specifically, I like the idea about the length of forever. I know when I was younger I used to say things like “this project is going to take me forever,” “my life is over” over dramatic phrasing that reduced my life to the next 24 hours if that — let’s face it, in some ways I still do that — but the moral of the Truth About Forever is the idea that forever is relative and forever is not only the next 24 hours but hopefully the next 24 years.
I think the idea that Macy slowly starts living life for herself and not her mother or her boyfriend is a really important lesson about forever for teenagers to grasp: no matter how long forever is for you is it really worth living at all if you are not being true to yourself and If you are just doing what others expect of you?
This book is one of my favorites because I can relate to the main character, not because I lost a parent or anything that dramatic, but because I have been through the awkward period of my life where I felt a need to be perfect because of others and I struggled because it was not fun, but it was what I thought I needed to do. In the story Macy realizes what I have realized as I grew out of that awkward period — being perfect and not being who you are is too much work and you need to embrace yourself and your oddities and imperfections if you want to be happy and carefree.
Jenny: Who is your favorite character in the book?/Who is the most well developed? (I think Sarah Dessen focuses a lot on character development in her stories)
Kim: I think I liked Kristy best, although I wouldn’t say she’s the most well-developed. In some ways she felt like little more than the quirky, fun friend who dresses goofy. But I still liked her because I thought she was well-written as a contrast to Macy and her family. I’m not sure who I’d say was most developed, other than Macy. They all seemed pretty standard to me.
Kim: I’m curious which characters you thought were most well-developed?
Jenny: Well of course Macy is well developed she is the main character, but I thought that by the end of the book the characters of Wes and Kristy were pretty well developed for supporting characters. The book is defiantly about Macy and her journey, but through that story I fell like you really learn and understand a lot about those two important supporting characters.
Jenny: Did you have any Billy Mayes or Sham-Wow or Magic Bullet flashbacks when they kept talking about the infomercial items the dad used to buy?
Kim: I actually didn’t, but I think that part was one of my favorite details. I liked the way the crazy objects became a symbol for Macy even though she knew it was irrational because that’s something I relate to. I always read signs into silly things, making them into more than they actually are, and it seemed like something a character like Macy would do too.
Jenny: Do you or any readers of your blog have any suggestions of more well written adult books that readers of books like the ones Sarah Dessen writes might enjoy (I know she has a large following in the YA chick lit community)?
Kim: I’m really not sure about this, so I might make this the last question and leave it open for readers.
Kim: Is there anything else you want to talk about with the book?
Jenny: I don’t know of anything specific, I just really like this book and I wanted you to give it a chance. I know that it is not an incredible piece of literature, but I think it is a fairly well written book that has a good story line and creates a character that teenage girls can relate to and learn a valuable lesson from.
I know what ready this story has had an impact on me when I was younger, and for me it is a book that I go back and read during times that are more difficult than others to remind myself what is important in life and what is a waste of efforts. Plus it is just a fun book to read.
If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!
Next up in Sisterhood of the Summer Book Reviews — The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffinger!