Maru's Reviews > The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
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's review
Jan 26, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, characters-i-love, ya-contemporary
Recommended for: Everyone.

Rating: 5 STARS

If I was suddenly thrown into a dystopian society where every person is only allowed to own ONE book, 'The Truth About Forever' would be a serious contender to be the one I choose. I love everything about the book. I love the characters, I love the dialogue, I love every scene, but above all, I love what it leaves me everytime I finish it.

Sarah Dessen does it again, that special ability of hers to turn simple plots into thought-provoking, deep, and meaningful stories. Everything that this book entails is something that most people (teens or adults) have to deal with: the fear of not having control.

Ever since her father died, Macy has been trying to be perfect, or at least close to perfect. She has a perfect boyfriend, she has perfect grades, she lives a predictable life with her mom, all things which are keeping her safe. In the summer before senior year however, in the midst of her seemingly 'perfect', controlled, uneventful life, Macy takes a job at Wish Catering, a job that is filled with chaos, unpredictable situations, lack of control, in fact the very opposite of what she has modeled her life to be since her dad's death. There she meets Delia, Kristy, Wes and a few others who help her realize where the beauty of life really is, who help her understand her grief a little bit better, and who help her be happy again in spite of the hole that will always be with her.

Every concern that Macy has is completely relatable and I found myself learning about life and the beauty of it right along with her. From Delia, Kristy and Wes, Macy learns that life's imperfections are what makes it worth living. I can identify with so many of Macy's fears, because what she goes through is just SO real. How many times have I tried to control everything I can in my life, trying to make up for the infinitely greater number of things that I can't control? Many. And so does Macy. After facing the unexpected death of her dad, Macy's whole life shakes, she realizes how little control we have over things we care about. This realization is so heartbreaking, and we ALL go through it at some point in our lives. It's one of the scariest things in the world, right? Knowing that the things and the people you love are not in your hands, you cannot protect them, you cannot control what happens to them. This is really scary. And Macy's reaction to it is totally realistic, actually it's the same reaction I have and I'm sure many people have it too: the idea that if you can't control everything, well then at least you'll control whatever you can, making sure it's all close-to-perfect so that the probability of loss or unexpected situations will be diminished.

Also realistic and in synch with my emotions is Macy's idea that she has to be perfect for everyone else. That is to say, she doesn't want to grieve her father in front of everyone because she doesn't want to be something else her mother has to worry about. She wants to be strong for others. Throughout the book she realizes that the way in which she can be strong for others isn't hiding her pain, but confronting it, sharing it with the people who feel the same and like that overcoming it little by little.

There is a specially precious moment in the book, during a conversation between Macy and Kristy that in one simple dialogue, gives me one of the most important life lessons ever, and something that I always try to remind myself.

"Listen," Kristy said, "the truth is, nothing is guaranteed. You know that more than anybody." She looked at me hard, making sure I knew what she meant. I did. "So don't be afraid. Be alive"
But then, I couldn't imagine, after everything that had happened, how you could live and not constantly be worrying about the dangers all around you. Especially when you'd already gotten the scare of your life.
"It's the same thing" I told her.
"What is?"
"Being afraid and being alive"
"No, Macy, no it's not"

WOW. This small lesson is one of the most important things I take. Something that, like Macy, has taken me so long to grasp: the mere fact that living and being afraid is NOT the same. In my experience, so many times people (me included) feel that just the act of being alive in a world so full of uncertainties, inevitably also means being scared. Yet here we have it, in a small dialogue Dessen really makes sure we understand that no, it's not. It's not the same thing to live and to be afraid. Don't be afraid, be alive.

This keeps being reiterated and in many ways is the central theme of the book. It comes up again, for example, with Delia and the big hole in the road leading up to her house. Anyone else would fill the hole, avoiding all the struggles and inconveniences it brought every time a car gets stuck trying to get through. However, for Delia it's part of life. As she so wisely tells Macy that the hole is not something that's broken and needs to be fixed. Much like the constant losses in life, and disappointments, and frustrations, that hole is what makes you work harder to get the where you need, making the journey ten times worth it. Delia gave me one of the biggest revelations and one of the biggest lessons when she talks about her sister's death saying "Some people they can just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me... I don't know. I didn't want to fix it, to forget. It wasn't something that was broken. It's just... something that happened. And like that hole, I'm finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time".

Again wow. How much reality is in those words. Dessen manages to turn something that I have spend most of my life trying to understand, in just one beautiful sentence. It's not about making the hole disappear, it's about working around it. Remembering it's there, and finding ways to live with it.

Then we also have the amazing Wes. Macy and Wes' relationship grows in a way that is more profound than almost any fictional-relationship I've read. There is no insta-love kind of thing. They gradually become friends, they get to know one other, they share feelings, stories, moments. Until at one point they realize how much they really understand each other, how they feel better when together. It makes their relationship real and beautiful. Macy throughout the book is able rely on Wes more and more, she's able to be herself around him, she can stop trying to be perfect and just let go, embrace her and everyone's flaws, and take life for what it really is. Macy knows how sad and scary life can be, but with Wes she also understands how beautiful and wonderful it is too.

These little dialogues throughout the book, and through them the journey Macy goes through - not only to understand life a little bit better, but to appreciate it with its flaws, with its heartbreaks, with its unfairness, because life isn't perfect, we can't control it, but we can choose to be scared or to be alive - is what makes the book extraordinaire and one that I won't forget.

I read it a long time ago, but for some reason always come back to it. Because it applies in so much stuff to everyday-life, sometimes in the midst of it, picking up the book and listening to Delia, Kristy or Wes talk and reading it through Macy's point of view can really change your perspective. The little details in the book make it that much more awesome too: Macy's dad obsession with EZ products, the 'gotcha' game between Wes and Bert, the angels and heart-in-hand sculptures by Wes, the ambulance as Bert's car, the library job (and the way Macy quits it), the beach house, the running, everything makes EVERY SINGLE character in the book three-dimensional, where we understand their motives, we know them, they are so real.

This book is very heartwarming, very optimistic towards life, it has so much to teach and so many lessons to leave the reader that sometimes it even requires several more reads to really understand all of them. Everything Macy learns in the book she will cherish forever, just like us.
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Quotes Maru Liked

Sarah Dessen
“It's all in the view. That's what I mean about forever, too. For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you'd better make every second count.”
Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Sarah Dessen
“It's just that...I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is.”
Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Sarah Dessen
“What you have to decide... is how you want your life to be. If your forever was ending tomorrow, would this be how you'd want to have spent it? Listen, the truth is, nothing is guaranteed. You know that more than anybody. So dont be afraid. Be alive.”
Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Reading Progress

04/06/2017 marked as: read

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