The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever by Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  390
My copy: paperback, bought from Powerbooks

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’ve been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The Truth About Forever did not do it any justice. The thing is, I don’t know how to write a proper review for this book without squealing or “sa-woon”-ing so much. Because believe me, I know I did that so many times when I was rereading this book.

But let me try again. Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s not my first Dessen, but it’s the book that made me love Dessen and made her one of my auto-buy authors. It’s one book I’ve reread multiple times and still get all swoony and happy and wishing for a romance like Macy and Wes did. Yes, even with their drama, because it made the ending so much satisfying in the end.

The Truth About Forever - UK coverThe Truth About Forever is about Macy Queen, whose life spun out of control when her dad died in front of her. Macy tried to hold it together for the sake of her family, hiding her grief and seeking perfection, thinking that this would help her mother who seeks perfection in everything she does as well, her own way of dealing with loss. The story starts with Macy’s boyfriend, Jason, leaving for Brain Camp and Macy facing a long summer with her strict schedule and routine. She’s okay, she always thought. Until one day, she meets the Wish Catering crew. One bad afternoon at her summer job, with a bad email to boot, she joins Wish, makes new friends, and meets Wes — the seemingly perfect guy with his own not-so-clean past, who likes flaws. Things turn interesting for Macy as she gets to know these people, and as she realizes that maybe it’s not so bad if her strictly-scheduled life unravels and she lets chaos in bit by bit.

Ah, this book. I think what makes me love this book more than I loved This Lullaby is how much I could relate to Macy. I’m fortunate enough to have my parents here with me so I can’t relate to Macy at that front, but the schedules? The need to be as perfect as I can be (sometimes, anyway)? Oh, I’ve been there. At the next rereads, I found that I wanted to shake Macy so hard — she needs to cry! She needs to snap out of the illusion that she needs to be perfect to hold things together. She needs to let go and reach for her mom so they could grieve together! Ah Macy, why do you frustrate me so much?

But it served as a good starting point. If there was anything that Sarah Dessen really knows, it’s how to write a story that seeps into you and hooks you, pulling you in up until the last page. There’s no need for magic or any supernatural creatures — just plain everyday things magnified, with added significance. The conversations could be just any normal conversation, but somehow they pack a punch. For example:

“Honestly,” I said.


“Come on. You have to admit it’s sort of ridiculous.”

“What is?”

Now that I had to define it, I found myself struggling for the right words. “You know,” I said, then figured Kristy had really summed it up best. “The sa-woon.”

“The what?”

“Wes, come on,” I said. “Are you seriously not aware of how girls stare at you?”

How cute is that?

There’s really nothing new with the story, but thanks to the writing and the vivid characters, it becomes a little bit extraordinary. This book is one of the reasons I appreciate characters more, why I believe that even the most common storyline can be interesting when the roles are played by strong, well-developed characters.

And then there’s Wes. Dessen boys are well known among readers, and Wes is definitely my favorite. He just seems so…perfect. Strange to see a seemingly perfect guy in a book that tells the main character that perfection isn’t everything, don’t you think? Believe me, I’m still trying to find some kind of flaw in Wes. But I guess that’s what crushes are — it’s so hard to find a flaw in them. I think I’m not that infatuated with Wes that I’d try and look for someone exactly like him (but hey, I wouldn’t mind, haha), but I would like to have the same kind of development that Macy and Wes had. Their relationship is one of the most authentic ones I’ve read — built on shared experiences and conversations. Now where is that guy I could play a game of Truth with?

So yeah, even on my third reread, I still loved The Truth About Forever. It reminds me of why I started reading YA and why I like the contemporary genre. If you’re looking for a good contemporary YA novel you can sink your teeth into, or if you’re looking for a good Sarah Dessen novel to start with, I highly recommend The Truth About Forever. Read it and sa-woon. :)

Rating: [rating=5]

Other reviews:
Forever Young Adult

A reason for those love songs

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  345
My copy: paperback, bought from Powerbooks

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

* * *

Note: Just this once, I’m trying a different way of reviewing. This may get a bit personal, but I hope you’ll ride it out with me — I just really need to try this out. :) A short, yet proper review will be at the end of the post.

Dear Future Tina,

I’m not sure when you’ll read this again, or if you’ll even be able to ever read this again in a few years or decades from now. I don’t know if this blog will still exist, or if this entry will exist because you can always delete and re-write this sometime in the future. But let’s assume that you won’t do any of the two things I said above and you will eventually read this again, with a surprised smile on your face.

Your brother got married exactly a week ago, and that was the very reason why you picked up This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen once again. This was a so-so book during your first read, probably because you read it during the New Year and you weren’t really feeling the characters nor the situation back then. If you need a reminder on why you picked this up, it’s because all the mushiness in the wedding put you in the mood to read something that had a little of romance in it, and not the paranormal kind.

You are not like Remy. You are not like her at all. Okay, maybe in some ways you are, particularly in the way you are both so obsessive-compulsive with everything (but she is more OC than you are)…but in other aspects, you are not. Let’s state the most obvious: Remy is a dating machine. You are definitely not.

I think that’s one of the reasons why you didn’t relate to her when you first read it. You can’t understand how someone can do what Remy does: date a guy for a while, be sweet and all, sleep with him and then when the relationship heads for some semblance of seriousness, break it off. I don’t really understand it either, but I know we know some people who are like that. And I know both of us wonder: how could they do that? How could they jump from one guy to another and not feel exhausted at all the emotional trauma? How could they even attract so many guys when you can’t seem to attract some?

But Remy has her own reasons, of course. I guess when you see your mother get divorced and married for more than five times, you’d think the same thing: love is a joke. It’s not real, and if you fall for it, you lose. Remy said it very well: “The fate of your heart is your choice, and no one else gets a vote…I just think that you have to protect yourself…you can’t just give yourself away.” (p. 265)

You know what’s strange, though? As different as we are to Remy with regards to how you date (or not date), we’re pretty much the same with how you handle your heart. True, Remy has much more experience than us, but we both handle our hearts in the same way: closely guarded, and walls up, and no one could get in close enough to really hurt us. Not that we have been really hurt before (of course I’m not sure about when you read this, but as of this writing, we’re both single since birth and there’s still no one on the horizon — but only God knows what’s in store for the future), but we’ve definitely seen enough people get hurt so much that we don’t want to experience that, ever.

But remember your brother’s wedding? Remember the feeling you had as you watched your brother tear up and how your sister-in-law looked so happy and beautiful? Remember all the love in the air as everyone celebrated their blessed union? I know you know in your heart that you wanted the same thing. I know that despite all the fear of getting hurt, despite everything that you’ve seen, heard and read, that you still want to experience the kind of love that would make you see the reason for all those love songs.

I hope that we both find an ending similar to Remy’s in This Lullaby. There are no guarantees, really, but there is an assurance that everything will be okay. Yeah, it’s fiction, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with hoping, right? If in case you haven’t found our Dexter yet when you read this letter sometime in the future, I hope that we will find him sometime soon. Or he’ll find us, just as he found Remy in the book. :)

Don’t lose hope, my future self. Remember what Dexter said: When it works, love is pretty amazing. :)

Yours (well, you are me, anyway),

* * *

The proper review:
Suffice to say, I liked this book more the second time around. Perhaps it’s because I understood it a little bit better, and related to it more despite my differences with Remy. Dessen is very good with writing stories that resonate well with the target audience, and as always, I like her strong characters, especially the minor ones who still manage to leave a big mark in the story. I bet Dessen can make even the smallest character who sells affordable car insurance have an leaven a mark in the story.

This isn’t my favorite Dessen, but I see why people love it so much. This book left me witha  goofy grin on my face after, and a hopeful feeling that someday, my own Dexter would come. :”>

Although personally, I still prefer a Wes (Sa-woon!).  ;)

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes
See Michelle Read

Great Books and Fresh Coffee

Half-Deserted Streets