It’s going to come as a shock for most of you guys, probably, but… before The Truth About Forever, I had never read a Sarah Dessen book. That’s something I am not proud of, especially given the fact that I am a huge contemporary lover. Thanks to some people’s endless persuasion –you’ll recognize yourself, and THANK YOU-, I finally can say that I have read one of the most prolific YA contemporary authors of these days. And that I liked it, a lot.
There’s no such thing as perfection
“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.”
What starts off as an average contemporary story, really had a lot, lot more to deliver. Macy is a sixteen-years-old teenager, struggling to deal with her father’s sudden death months ago, struggling to be the “perfect” girl she always thought she had to be, alongside of her “perfect” nerd boyfriend. But when the boyfriend in question leaves for half of the summer to some sort of Brainiac camp, Macy’s all by herself and slowly realizing that, no, being perfect isn’t all there is. That image she started building herself around, slowly shatters, and makes some room for a whole new person: a girl she didn’t realize was inside of her, a girl that shouldn’t be perfect at all costs, study hard, work hard, respect curfew and make everything goes smoothly. Because if anything, LIFE doesn’t go smoothly. As you can guess, this story was mainly character-driven, so if you’re a fan of huge plot twists and a story keeping you off your toes, well, this might not be the story for you. If you love contemporaries, characters going through a huge development, or a perfect summer read, then, this is it.
A character-driven story, with some amazing side-characters
“It was just one of those things,” I said, “You know, that just happen. You don’t think or plan. You just do it.”
Obviously, in order for me to make sense, I need to talk about the characters, and Macy, especially. The main character of this story reminded me of myself, at times, and maybe it’s for that reason that I could relate so much, and definitely emphasize with what she’s going through. She’s struggling, she doesn’t know who she is supposed to be. She is just one of the most realistic characters I might have read about in a contemporary. Since this is mostly a character-driven story, we get to follow her all through summer, as she tries to handle one job she hates, another she’s kind of happy about, and meet people completely changing her views about things. If we get an excellent glimpse of Macy and her evolution thorough the story, secondary characters are such a huge part of the story as well, completely shaping Macy into who she wants to become. They are not just here to give the main character someone to talk to, and fit in a little dialogue here and there: they are such a huge part of the story, and all of them are fleshed-out precisely, realistically, making us discover a real little gang of people, creating friendships, and more, making us discover the heart and the roots of human relationships, and what they can bring us, how they can make us see the world completely differently.
Relationships in three words: strong, realistic, FEELINGS
“The choices you make now, the people you surround yourself with, they all have the potential to affect your life, even who you are, forever.”
You know me: I’m not going to leave you without some kind of marshmallow story on the side. If there’s something like a love story in that Sarah Dessen book, it’s slow-building, with friendship, with getting to know each other and slowly growing feelings towards each other. Far, far away from the insta-love trope, what we get here is a realistic relationship, with a boy that’s definitely far from being perfect, yet managed to bring a huge grin on my face every single time. There was such a huge place for family relationships as well, especially between Macy and her mom, hard-working, never-stopping kind of mom. If the development of their relationship comes a little later on, we’re definitely understanding and rooting for a reconciliation and a happy ending, something we might not really get at the end of this book. If everything seemed perfect, the family issues weren’t completely solved at the last lines, sadly. However, this didn’t prevent me from caring, and thinking about these relationships for a long, long time afterwards.
If there’s one word to describe this book, it would be, realistic. In a world where you can’t really say forever, the truth is, all you have is right now. With realistically fleshed-out characters, great relationships and an incredible growth, Macy’s journey will take away all contemporary lovers with a huge smile on their faces. Not so into contemporaries? If you want to start, do it right here, with this little glimpse of a forever.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Did you read The Truth About Forever? Do you want to read it?
Sarah Dessen fans, WHAT is the next book I need to read now? Do you have suggestions of other books with very realistic characters? Share your thoughts in comments!
Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever, Published by Penguin Group Inc., May 11th 2004.
A long, hot summer…
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 question her sheltered life.
Is it really always better to be safe than sorry?