This is yet another strong novel about teens dealing with real life. The Truth About Foreverspeaks of grief and loss as well as living in the moment and enjoying life at the moment. Macy Queen is the narrator of this story and it is through her eyes we see how her life has changed since dealing with the death of a loved one and discovering a new love in the course of one summer.
As the novel opens, the summer has started. Macy and her family have recently had a death in the family. Macy’s father, during a routine morning jog, collapses and dies from a heart attack in front of her. It’s a memory that won’t fade. Since her father’s death, Macy decides to removing herself from the world by shedding her old life prior to her father’s death and keeping only to herself. Macy’s boyfriend, Jason, is preparing to go to Brain Camp for the summer. Macy thinks that Jason is just what she needs in her life. Someone who’s in control of everything and who doesn’t believe in chance or fate. Macy agrees to work for him during the summer at the info desk at the library. A job Jason takes seriously and expects Macy to do the same.
Macy establishes a routine in her life that she allows to consume her: working and studying for her SAT exam. She perpetuates a false facade of perfection to her family. It seems that she doesn’t allow herself any time for fun or friendship. Her sister, Caroline seems to have been the rebellious one in the family: sneaking out at night to meet boys. Macy is more predictable where Caroline was wild and out of control. Caroline eventually gets it together, graduating from college, marrying and settling down.
Macy’s mom, Deborah, decides to hide behind work. Work is her refuge from life and all it’s ugliness. It’s something she can control. Deborah started a real estate business, Wildflower Ridge Homes, with her husband and was successful at it. After his death, she continues to give even more of herself to her job and less to family. Caroline is the one who tries the breach the family’s code of silence of dealing with the death of their dad by renovating the beach house that he loved so much. However, this only causes more heartache and grief in the family. The agenda seems to be to pretend that everything is alright on the surface and stick to safe topics and avoid the ugly truth.
And so it goes with Macy and her routine of work and study until she meets Delia and gang from Wish, who caters a party for her mother that goes disastrously wrong. Delia runs Wish, named after her late sister who died of cancer. Very pregnant, Delia runs this business with her two nephews Bert and Wes and with Kristy and Monica. To say that chaos is their middle name is putting it mildly. Soon, Macy starts to work for them just to do something different and unpredictable. It’s a change. Something different. Unfortunately, Macy’s mom see her new change as a negative and discourages her relationship with Delia and the rest. That’s it in terms of the plot that I care to discuss or divulge. You’d have to read the book to get the rest.
There are a few story arcs that eventually culminate to the end of summer where you see new beginnings and endings. Also there’s a nice romance that develops that doesn’t ever seem forced or contrived. There’s a natural flow to it that I found refreshing. The memories of first love. Remember the late night walks? Or the two of you alone, sharing your most inner most secrets in the dark with the cute guy whose oblivious of his effect on young girls. Sa-woon. Nor does he care. Sa-woon, again. It’s a bit idealistic but who cares, I loved it. The dialogue is realistic; the issues of death and grief were nicely handled and balanced with an uplifting message of living in the moment. The overall tone of the story wasn’t depressive at all despite the topic of death plays an integral part in the story. However, the story does evoke a little of everything emotionally from you, leading you to be a bit more reflective of life in general. I loved the ending.
I identified with Macy and what she was going through. Macy was a very engaging narrator. The secondary characters helped round out the story and were just as memorable as the protagonist but they never overshadowed the narrator. I used to have an aversion to first person stories but when you read a story like this you have to admit that it’s not always the the point of view that is at fault. More or less the power is in the mighty pen and the talent of the author. First person does have it’s limitations but if done right, it shouldn’t be that noticeable to the reader. Fault likes with the author not the format is my theory for why first person doesn’t always work well for me. Third person pov is what I would prefer but I do have keepers on my bookshelf with first person pov.
Anyway, I loved this story. I loved Macy as the narrator. I related to her. Loved the secondary characters that included Delia and the gang. Enjoyed the romance while it was a bit frustrating watching the two of them misjudge or miscommunicate with each other slightly at times but then it’s necessary for the climax of the story. It certainly added to the anticipation. I remember Jane mentioning that she’d read this book like five times or something. I know this is one of her best books ever, so you know I had to read it. I plan to read more of Ms. Dessen’s work. I’m sure her other stories probably won’t top this one; who knows, they might but anyway, I think she has a great voice to tell stories with and I strongly recommend this title for readers who are looking for a good book to read. It’s a quick read, too. I took my time with it because I didn’t want it to end. My grade, A.
I know some readers won’t touch books that are labeled YA novels and it’s a pity. A lot of the time, the themes in YA are very adult allowing the difference to be seen through the eyes of the young. My thanks to Rachel for bringing this genre to my attention and of course to Jane for mentioning how much she loved this book. Read this book. It’s very good. I can’t promote this book any better than that. Anyway, good reading to you as always.