Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen
Puffin books
374 pages
Reviewed by Heather F.

I really needed a break from review books and this one sounded good. I’ve been meaning to try Sarah Dessen’s writing for a long time. Little did I know; this one hit a little close to home.

Macy is like most regular 17-year-olds. She has a boyfriend. She makes good grades. She’s on the student council. She has a summer job. Only difference, she witnessed her father’s death and hasn’t figured out how to mourn. But she’s fine, just fine.

She does what everyone tells her to do so that they will be happy. She takes over her boyfriend’s library job for the summer, while he goes to Brain Camp. She comes home every night and studies for the SATS. She fixes the salad to her mother’s chicken for supper. She covers for her sister when she sneaks out at night. She gives everything she’s got, just to be perfect.

But then she meets the Wish Catering crew, her boyfriend decides he wants a "break" and her life is turned upside down. Suddenly, it’s okay to go to a party of Friday night. It’s okay to see her friends and spend the night. It’s okay to be human. And then Wes, gorgeous, compassionate Wes, teaches her how to mourn.

My mom took off when I was about 3 and my dad died when I was 8. I was raised by my grandparents and I never really learned how to mourn for my dad. Even at 8, I felt I had to be, maybe not perfect, but *fine*. So you can see where this book hit a little close to home.

So, what was so great about this book? All of it! The characters were amazing. I felt a little bereft when I read the last page. They are still in my mind, days later and it’s made it somewhat hard to read another book. Dessen is a great writer who seems more than capable of writing for the Young Adult audience. The dialogue feels natural and honest. The story rings with humor and some of the more lighthearted moments serve as a nice contrast to the darker subjects of death, fear and loss. Macy’s shift from fragile perfection to poignant grief and renewal is nothing short of mastery.

There were a few problems. A few of the characters were barely two dimensional. Monotone Monica has a repertoire of, maybe 5 words. She has like 2 complete sentences throughout the book. Her sister Kristy has a tendancy to wear the loudest, most colorful outfits and their descriptions can get tiresome. And, yes, while everyone isn't perfect, sometimes it felt like Dessen was trying a little too hard to make sure every-single-character had a very pronounced fault.

All in all though, a must read for anyone who appreciates a good story with good, well-written and honest characters. I can’t wait to get my hands on more by this author.

A few favorite quotes:
"There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment."

"It's all in the view. That's what I mean about forever, too. For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you'd better make every second count."

"It's just that...I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is."

"I knew, in the silence that followed, that anything could happen here. It might be too late: again, I might have missed my chance. But I would at least know I tried, that I took my heart and extended my hand, whatever the outcome.

"Okay," he said. He took a breath. "What would you do, if you could do anything?"

I took a step toward him, closing the space between us. "This," I said. And then I kissed him."

You can find more out about Sarah Dessen at herwebsite or blog.

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