Grief, fear, and love set the novel’s pace, and Macy’s crescendo from time-bomb perfection to fallible, emotional humanity is as gripping as any action adventure.
—School Library Journal, starred review
Dessen gracefully balances comedy with tragedy and introduces a complex heroine worth getting to know.
In Sarah’s Words
When I began The Truth About Forever, I knew that I wanted to write about the idea of being “perfect,” and what that does and doesn’t mean. I was also interested in seeing a character go through a loss, and how that affected the way she viewed the world. When the story begins, Macy is scared, and she deals with her fear by trying to control as much as she can: her appearance, her behavior, how others perceive her. She narrows her life, shutting out everything that could possibly be a risk to her. It isn’t until she meets a group of people who have a total opposite approach—courting, enjoying, and surviving chaos—that she realizes that in reacting to her dad dying, she’s stopped living herself.
During the time I was writing this book, there was a lot happening. The movie based on my first two novels was getting ready to come out, I was under a deadline…the list goes on and on. While at first I felt a certain amount of pressure, Macy and her story soon became a sort of solace for me. I’ve never been so immersed in the writing of a book before, and I had a hard time pulling myself away from it, even when I most wanted to. I think that’s a good sign, although it sometimes meant that my house got dirty and the laundry piled up. But to really disappear into a story is never a bad thing, for writers or for readers.
There’s a lot happening in The Truth About Forever. In fact, I think it’s the most complicated book I’ve written, and it was definitely the hardest. Part of this may be because I suffer from a terrible case of perfectionism myself, which led to this awful irony of realizing that I was writing a book about embracing imperfection, and yet I wanted it to be perfect. So, as often happens in my books, I was learning right along with my narrator, struggling with the same issues. I think we both came out okay at the end, though.
Whenever I hear from readers about this book, I’m always interested in what struck them the most. With some people, it’s how Macy deals with the death of her father, how it makes her angry. Others like Kristy’s humor and outfits. But overwhelmingly, I’ve heard the most so far about Wes. I think that in a lot of ways, he was the kind of guy I was always looking for: one who wasn’t so interested in the “perfect,” girl, whoever she might be. A boy who likes flaws, who sees potential in everything. While Delia’s company may represent chaos, Wes to me is hope. To him, nothing is ever finished, or broken. It’s just waiting to be incarnated, to begin as something new, again. And that, to me, is what Macy’s story is all about. How life is a continuing series of beginnings and endings, losses and gains, all folding into one long stretch, one lifetime, and one forever.
Macy’s summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy’s plans don’t anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or … Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn’t fit Macy’s life at all–so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So … happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together.