Sarah Dessen’s The Truth about Forever is the story of Macy, a 17 year old girl, who, after witnessing her father’s death, does everything she can to be perfect for her mother and the world around her. The novel follows Macy through a summer where she is stuck working at her boyfriend’s job at the library while he is away at “Brain Camp.” Macy hates the silence of the job (not to mention to mean girls she’s paired with), but is content to stick it out and do exactly what is expected of her. That is, until she says “too much” in an email to her boyfriend and his response becomes the catalyst for change.
Macy joins up with the Wish catering company where she not only gets a new job, she meets the people who will force her to reexamine her life. They are chaotic, disorganized, flawed, and a lot of fun. With their friendship and guidance, Macy is able to see her life in a whole new way.
As I read about Macy’s struggles I remembered by own as a teenager and young adult. The feeling of being “too much” is one I am well acquainted with. Macy feels that if she doesn’t fit into her “perfect” box, that she is just another problem in her mother’s life. She doesn’t even allow herself the chance to grieve for her father because she feels that her sister, who cried all the time, is doing enough for both of them. I could relate so well to not wanting to be an added burden on someone who already is carrying the world on their shoulders, the way that Macy’s mom is. I was completely behind Macy as she navigated the new world that was opened to her in the novel.
Even though this novel, and Sarah Dessen’s others, are considered “Young Adult,” the themes ring true for adults as well. The idea that maybe you are heading in a direction that is not the way you want to be going. Maybe you’re living your life for someone or something else. As adults, we endure bad relationships, jobs we hate, and we may spend a lot of time settling. Macy says one of my favorite lines after she has started hanging out with her new friends from Wish, but is still working at the library info desk. She says, “In so many ways, I was realizing the info desk was a lot like my life had been before Wish… Something to be endured but never enjoyed.” I know in my life, before I started the job I have now, I spent most of my days enduring and not enjoying. I loved seeing Macy take control of her own life and happiness and see the message contained in this 17 year old girl. Even if, as adults, we can’t just decide to walk away from our current lives, it is still inspiring to read about someone who can.
This book works on so many levels because Dessen doesn’t talk down to her readers. Even though the book involves the “typical” teenage drama of romance and friendships, there is a gravity in the language that is sometimes missing from other novels in this genre. I would recommend her books to my students…and my friends.
(Also, you can follow @sarahdessen on twitter!)
Read more Book Reviews here: Apron Anxiety