Some books stay with you forever. The Truth About Forever is one of those books, for me. I first read it when I was around sixteen and have reread it countless times since then—I can’t get enough of it. It’s Sarah Dessen at her finest, which is why I thought it was the perfect beginning to the Very Sarah Dessen Holiday. This books gave me feels before I knew what that even meant, and I still fangirl over Wes, even though I am now (mostly) an adult.
Macy Queen is in her last summer of high school. The book begins with her saying goodbye to her boyfriend, Jason, who is off to Brain Camp for nearly the entire summer and who left her with the most boring job of all time—watching over the reference desk with two of the meanest mean girls alive. Her mom is a realtor, and throws a party to celebrate the new housing development that she’s building. It seems like a normal summer, but it’s not. Not for Macy. You see, Macy is still known as the girl who watched her dad die. Macy is still trapped in a tragic memory, something she can’t seem to escape from. All of that changes on the night of her mom’s party, when she meets the people behind Wish Catering. That’s when Macy’s summer starts to change, when she meets Wes and Burt and Kristy and this whole group of people who don’t think of her as the girl whose dad is dead. They think of her as Macy, just Macy. They see her as being very much alive.
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I have so many feelings. I’ll start with something easy to poke at—Jason. Oh, Jason. He’s potentially the worst boyfriend ever, but Dessen writes him in an almost forgivable way. He’s trying to protect his future. He’s trying to show Macy what’s important in life. Macy gravitated toward him because he didn’t see her as the girl with the dead dad; he saw her as an intelligent person when she was grasping at straws in her life. All of it is real, and it happens to people all the time. But Jason is the WORST. He breaks up with Macy in an email—AN EMAIL—which is what throws her into just enough of a tailspin that she seeks out Wish Catering on a night when she has nothing else to do. Jason is the ultimate blessing in disguise. Without Jason, Macy would have never found Wes.
Wes is Jason’s opposite. He’s not necessarily from the wrong side of the tracks, but he got in with a rough crowd when he was in high school and ended up in a detention center, where he learned how to weld and started using his welding skills to make metal sculptures. He has a tattoo on his arm and all the girls fawn over him. But he and Macy have something very grim in common, and it’s what draws them together in the first place, as friends. They start playing the game of Truth. They start sharing their secrets with each other, start spilling parts of their hearts until they’ve shared just enough to know that what they have is something special.
And then there’s the rest of the gang, who are all wonderful, unique, charming secondary characters who make this story what it is. It’s a candid look at summertime for high school students who have to work for their spending money. It’s what I always wished for when I was in high school—I wanted something (or some people) to swoop in and save me from the nightmare of it all. Instead, I just grew up. But I was able to live that dream through Dessen’s books and characters, and that’s what makes her so special to me.
Of course, there are some frustrating bits about this book, as there is with anything. Macy is a bit dim at times, needing things to be spelled out to her, things that are so obvious to the readers. There was a party about halfway through the book where I could already tell that Wes had it bad for Macy, and she was so clueless about it. It’s all part of the story, part of the high school experience, but believe me, I was frustrated. It doesn’t take away from the story; rather, it makes the story what it is.
I truly wouldn’t be who I am without this book, and I’m hoping that more people read it and get something different out of it, something that I didn’t take away at any point when I read it. It’s one of those books that is so special to me that I want people to love it in whatever way works for them. That is how I know a book shaped my life for the better.
The Truth About Forever is available where books are sold. Sarah Dessen is also the author of eleven other books, plus her newest, Once and for All, which is due out in June 2017.