Thursday 3 March 2011

The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen

Since her father died, Macy has been struggling to hold everything together. On the surface everything looks perfect: perfect grades, perfect boyfriend, perfect life - but underneath she's falling apart. It's the summer before her last year of high school, and everything counts towards going to a good university. Her boyfriend's gone away to "brain camp" and left her his job at the library - but she hates it. Her colleagues sneer at her, and at home her workaholic mother is too busy with her job as some sort of estate agent/party host who shows off the new houses. At one of her mother's functions, she befriends the kind-hearted but chaotic caterers and takes on a second job with them. Her new friends help her to see that life is not to be feared but embraced, while Macy finds herself growing closer to Wes, the boy with a Past.

Grief treats everyone in different ways, and Macy and her mother bury theirs deep inside, pretending that everything is fine. Macy's mother loses herself in her work, while Macy's coping mechanism is her pursuit of "perfection," for only when she's perfect, she reasons, will she have control. But she is not happy. Although she claims to be in love with her boyfriend, Jason, it's clear the lady doth protest too much, and that Jason is not good for her, being more interested in his university applications and that Macy covers his job adequately.

I found The Truth About Forever to be much more a character-led book than plot-driven. Dessen does a great job at bringing Macy's new friends to life: accident-prone, pregnant caterer Delia - UK readers may be amused by her name, being very unlike another Delia in food! - bickering brothers Wes and Bert, lively Kristy and her sister Monica "Monotone" whose vocabulary consists of "Mmm-hmm/Nuh-uh," "Don't even..." and "Better quit."

I wasn't so convinced by the "villains" of the piece, if I may so call them. Jason acted more like he was Macy's middle-aged, humourless boss than her boyfriend, and her mother was a monster. Yes, I know she was grieving and stressed, but the way she treated Macy was disgraceful. One evening she came home to find Macy had invited her friends in to watch TV - whatever next? Offering them coffee? Playing music? - and she acted as if Macy had staggered home drunk at three in the morning and thrown up over the new carpet. If Macy's aim of perfection was unhealthy, her mother's pushing her was far, far worst. Any time Macy spent on her summer holiday not studying or working - and only the library job counted - just wasn't good enough. Only perfect was good enough. She's seventeen years old! Let her live!

But what is the truth about forever? The subject popped up throughout the book, but I wasn't quite sure what message Dessen was trying to get across. Kristy contradicts herself by saying at different times, "Life is long," and "Life is short." In short, nothing lasts forever. A few weeks of summer might feel like forever at the beginning, but it's gone before you know it.

Although I quite enjoyed this book, it took me a few days to get through as it was quite similar to some other books for teenagers, and not a lot ultimately happened. I felt the need to read something a bit more challenging; this was nice but too light and fluffy for my taste at the time of reading.

If you enjoyed this you may like:

Tiger Eyes - Judy Blume

1 comment:

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