The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin Group Inc. on May 11, 2004
Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, coming-of-age
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When it comes to YA contemporary, Sarah Dessen is one of the reigning queens of the genre. I’ve heard great things about her novels, and so when I found an entire shelf of them at the library, I looked through them and picked up this one.
This book’s biggest strength is that it’s exactly what it claims to be: a coming-of-age tale involving catering, love, and a cast of quirky characters. However, that is also, in my opinion, this novel’s biggest weakness.
But I’ll start with the positives first here. Sarah Dessen writes Hallmark movies in book form, except her work is less cheesy and deals with deeper, realer issues. Her books are fluffy and warm, but they have heart. We see Macy and her family process the grief of losing Macy’s father, and it’s not always smooth sailing for them. In addition to learning how to help herself move on, Macy has to help her mother and step into her own, even if being true to herself means being someone other than who her mother thinks she should be. Add to that the pressure of living up to others’ expectations and trying to navigate her relationship with her sort-of boyfriend Jason (who isn’t really one for expressing affection), and you have a very real story with a ton of sticky situations and sweet moments. I laughed with Macy, hurt when she hurt, got angry when she did, and cheered for her when she attained victories. It was good to be able to connect with her.
That being said, I think one of my favorite aspects of this novel has to be all the characters of Wish Catering. Kristy and Monica and Bert and Wes and Delia are all memorable characters in their own right. Whether they’re doing catering work (where things can go wrong both quickly and hilariously), purposefully scaring each other (Bert and Wes’s antics always made me laugh), or just enjoying each other’s company, these guys are fun to read about. They’re nonjudgmental, funny, and, again, really quirky. (I loved Bert’s car. I mean, do you know anyone who has a car that used to be an ambulance?) I can see why Macy feels comfortable around them. I kind of wish they existed in real life so that I could hang out with them, too.
Now on to the not-so-positive (which, I promise, isn’t too big of a complaint): This book is predictable. If you watch any coming-of-age story, I guarantee you’ll be able to guess what’s going to happen within the next few chapters. This isn’t a problem, really, but if you’re looking for a book with some surprises, you won’t find it here. It’s just a matter of preference. 🙂
If you haven’t read Sarah Dessen yet, I would recommend this novel be your first (although I’ve only read this one and Saint Anything, so I can’t speak for some of her older, more-beloved books). It offers a sweet story about overcoming grief, taking risks, figuring out who you are, and finding out where you belong. Is it a little fluffy? Yeah. Does it wrap up a little too neatly? Sure. But it has more heart and depth than your average contemporary novel, in my opinion.