Book Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
‘Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about, the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.’
I’m a little hesitant to write a less than glowing review, given how beloved Dessen’s novels are, but I just don’t think this is an author for me. That’s not to say Dessen isn’t a good writer — I finished The Truth About Forever in about 4 hours and was compelled to keep reading through to the end. I just found the whole story pretty underwhelming.
I should point out contemporary fiction is not something I read a lot of, mainly because I don’t usually find it that interesting — unless it is very hard-hitting and gritty — so perhaps I’m not the best person to judge these particular books. I would define Dessen’s novels as a light summer read with more weight than most. To be fair — I think she tackles subjects like grief well, while at the same time not allowing the story to become depressing — a difficult balance to maintain.
Unfortunately, I found the characters pretty forgettable, especially Macy. I know she was numb as a way to coping with her father’s death but I have to admit I found her very dull as a consequence and found her justification of Jason’s behaviour frustrating. I did like Kristy and Bert but for a book of this length I would have liked to have explored the other characters in a lot more depth. Wes was nice enough, but didn’t leave much of an impression and I never felt any sort of spark or chemistry between him and Macy. Their relationship just sort of… happened. This is a very character driven book with very little plot — and sadly I just didn’t connect with Macy.
Ultimately, Dessen’s writing just doesn’t have enough impact for me. If an author is tackling a difficult subject — like the loss of a parent — I prefer a raw, powerful novel. The Truth About Forever was just too sedate for me — and though I was intrigued to see Macy finally confront the loss of her father and assert herself — it was a long time coming and in the end, somewhat anti-climatic. While I doubt I will be picking up any of Dessen’s other books anytime soon — I would certainly recommend her. Dessen is a talented writer, whose stories often contain an important message for teenagers — and there aren’t any other YA books quite like hers. Definitely worth a read.
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