Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
"Fine," he repeated, and I wondered why it was I kept coming back to this, again and again, a word that you said when someone asked how you were but didn't really care to know the truth.
Macy Queen is fine. Just fine. She's been fine ever since her dad died the day after Christmas as she looked on. Ever since she and her mom ordered and organized grief out of their lives in favor of silent and predictable days, she has been fine. Ever since Macy started dating Jason, a brainiac who seems to know all the answers but is a little lacking in the love department, she has been fine.
As she sinks into another long summer at home, taking over Jason's job at the library info desk while he heads off to "Brain Camp," Macy is determined to be fine even though her co-workers treat her as something less than human, her mother has entirely lost herself in a townhouse project at work, and her dead father's obsession with infomercial inventions continues to haunt her. Alas, when she makes the mistake of professing her love to Jason via e-mail and not taking her library job seriously enough, Jason declares a break for their relationship. That's when Macy takes up with the chaotic but full of heart Wish catering crew and everything starts to change, most of all Macy herself. As the summer wears on, her friends from Wish teach Macy how to start living life again, and handsome, artistic Wes who seems to understand her in ways she could never have imagined has a lot to teach her about love.
"It's hard to do," I said.
Wes looked at me. "What is?"
I swallowed, not sure why I'd said this out loud. "Get it right."
The Truth About Forever is an excellent book which is targeted at a young adult audience but can be appreciated by anyone looking for a great story populated with entirely lovable, believable characters. Macy is an incredibly realistic teen narrator, someone who, while not a social outcast, is struggling with many problems and laboring under the weight of the facade she relies on to get through the day. It's impossible not to root for her, wishing that she'd dump her terrible library job not to mention Jason whose loveless cerebral approach to their relationship and total lack of emotional warmth make readers loath him as much Macy loves him. Each of the members of the Wish crew is a fully fleshed out character and each has a part to play in Macy's story.
What's best about this book, though, is Dessen's grasp on Macy's many conflicting emotions and her brilliant ability to pace events just right, so that we can really feel the emotional punch her story is packing. If you're anything like me, this is not a book that you'll want to read too much of in public. I found myself crying repeatedly as Macy finally finds the understanding she's been looking for, works through the grief she had bottled inside, and learns that real friends don't want an act, they want her.
But then, I couldn't imagine, after everything that had happened, how you could live and not constantly be worrying about the dangers all around you. Especially when you'd already gotten the scare of your life.
"It's the same thing," I told her.
"Being afraid and being alive."
"No," she said slowly, and now it was as if she was speaking a language she knew at first I wouldn't understand, the very words, not to mention the concept, being foreign to me. "Macy, no. It's not."
This is my first Sarah Dessen but definitely won't be my last. Everything about this story just seems so right, and I can't recommend it heartily enough. (You must reeeeaaaad it...now!)