Desert Isle Keeper Review
The Truth About Forever
2004, Young Adult
Viking, $16.99, 374 pages, Amazon ASIN 0670036390
After reading a Sarah Dessen book, I always feel like I need to sit
think about my own life and I how I can appreciate it more. Her
makes me thoughtful. The Truth about Forever provoked the same
reaction, and, as a bonus, it's her most romantic book yet.
Several years previously Macy Queen's dad died suddenly, and in grief,
buried her true self and interests and concentrated on making herself
into a high achievement version of Macy, the kind of girl whom no one
have to worry over, least of all her over-extended and highly-strung
mother. But when Macy's boyfriend Jason leaves her behind for the
go to Brain Camp, she feels at a loss. Jason is perfect - an all-state
champ, student council president, the holder of the highest G.P.A.
her high school - and Macy feels like keeping close to Jason provides
with the perfect rudder with which to navigate her recently chaotic
But without him there to provide the rationale for perfection and the
activities to achieve it, she suddenly feels very alone. Her job at
library information desk is boring, and her coworkers (Jason groupies)
a dull job even less enjoyable.
Then by accident she runs across Delia and her crew when they
cater one of her mother's business do's. Macy lends them a helping
Delia offers her a job: "Catering is an insane job, though," she warns Macy. "I don't know why you'd want to do it, when you have a peaceful, normal job. But if for some reason you're craving chaos, call me.
And when Jason tells Macy that he wants to take a break from their
relationship for the summer so he can better concentrate on his goals,
suddenly chaos seems to hold a certain appeal. Delia needs her, the
catering itself is fun and frantic, and sne enjoys her new colorful coworkers, as well as the very, very attractive Wes - a boy no girl
resist. But what will happen at the end of the summer when her two
must come together again? Which Macy will she choose to be - the
one or the chaotic one?
Macy is a very relatable heroine, stuck in reacting to her circumstances to the point that she no longer knows who she is. She didn't choose to lose herself, but she did anyway. And her family conspired with circumstances to lock her into the role of the good student, the good daughter, the reliable one. Macy and her mother never really fully grieved for her father because
couldn't afford to and now they are barely communicating at all. His
stands between them. Neither of them dares talk about him for fear
everything will collapse.
This is not a book about the deepest throes of grief, but the author does
explore Macy's loss and the losses of other characters in a very
manner. In numerous ways her characters learn the process of getting
up on the horse that has thrown them, of learning to navigate
waters and enjoy that same process of navigation. A reoccurring theme
Dessen's fiction is that life is painful and scary and unpredictable,
is also profoundly good and also very fun. The trick is to learn to
concentrate on the good without completely repressing the painful.
a message that, in my opinion, cannot be conveyed too often. Most
could stand a gentle reminder to stop and smell the roses.
The author offers a diverse and amusing cast of characters. Macy's new friend
Kristy is a smart-mouthed eternal optimist, the kind of girl anyone
like to have as a friend. She is good-hearted, friendly, funny, and
Much of her dialogue had me laughing out loud. Wes' little brother Bert is the kind of socially-awkward teenaged boy everyone knows. His
End of the World scenarios, and he spends his time muttering about
tsunamis and driving his converted ambulance around trying to hook a
girlfriend. Wes is almost too wonderful to be believed. Sensitive,
artistic, patient, accepting, and drop-dead gorgeous - he's any girl's
for a boyfriend. Since the book is written in first-person point of
the reader never gets into his thoughts, but Dessen does a good job
conveying what it is that he sees in Macy, so their relationship is
believable and very sweet.
The one criticism I have about this book concerns Macy's job at the
library. It's highly unlikely that three young girls would be running
information desk together. Macy would more probably be working as a
And the fact that the library is stiflingly slow in the summertime
ring true either. Most libraries are busiest in summer with their
reading programs for children. But clearly Macy's job is there to
contrast and to reflect the choice she has to make between dull
interesting chaos, so for the most part I was able to overlook the
descriptions of how boring working at the library was for Macy.
I finished The Truth about Forever in one day and after I read
last page, I flipped it open to the beginning to read it again. The writing is polished and symbolic, and as much as I wanted to
funny bits and the tender stuff again, I also wanted to read for
and see how all of the little scenes blended together to reiterate
message. I know this is a book that I will read many times because it's not
just Macy's story, it's a story about grief and survival, life and
hope. This book is a reminder of what life is and can be; it's a note from the
enjoy life, and that's something we all need to be reminded of. For
reason I highly recommend Dessen to anyone who hasn't yet tried her.
Please do go ahead and treat yourself to this book.
-- Rachel Potter
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