Sometimes, after working a full-time job where people shoot the messenger (and that messenger is you) and you come straight home to your responsibilities as a co-founder of an organization, before you go to bed you want to read a cliched, lighthearted book. In other words, sometimes I want to read a book that is ridden with cliches, where a happy ending is guaranteed, where the book is predictably lighthearted and sweet, because, sometimes, reading these books aren’t a sin, but are a means of necessary escapism. There are times when I want to be challenged intellectually, but sometimes, I want to allow myself these brief moments of simple gratification.
I hoped The Truth About Forever would be that book for me, and it was — and then some.
The Truth About Forever is my first realistic chick-lit book in years and also my first Sarah Dessen book ever. After reading The Truth About Forever, I think I will now be more inclined to read more from the genre. This book delivered on the easy-to-read, lighthearted front, but it was also unexpectedly grounded, sensitive, and sweet.
Dessen knows how to write a compelling story. However, Wes as a mysterious, romantic interest didn’t really pique my interest. His character development hinged on being an enigma to both the reader and Macy, with other characters giving hints to his character. Instead, I was so much more interested in Macy’s personal development and her expectations to be perfect for her mother, who struggled to cope with the grief of losing her husband. I empathized with Macy’s interpersonal conundrum – to be that rock for her mother and live up to everyone’s expectations of her, or try and find her own path of self-growth. Something about that really resonated with me, and I enjoyed that aspect of the narrative from beginning until end.
Whilst I enjoyed this book for what it was, I felt emotionally detached from this novel and its characters. Reading this book was more like watching something unfold with impassive curiosity, rather than being involved with its developments and buildup. This was particularly true for Macy and Wes’s relationship. There was no substance to Macy and Wes’s relationship, aside from the fact that they are honest with each other because of a Truth game they play and the fact that Wes is extremely attractive (note, we are reminded repeatedly how attractive Wes is throughout the novel). Furthermore, why does Wes like Macy? The reader gets an inkling of why Macy likes Wes, but aside from the fact that Macy is the main character and therefore the recipient of love interest’s attraction by default, I will never know why. One perspective is not enough for me. If I cannot see how and why two characters like each other, then how can I ascertain the depth of their relationship?
After giving it further thought, I feel like the delivery on all corners of this book – plot, characters, secondary characters, dialogue, and so on – was well-done but not fantastic. Each facet of the book is written adequately, but just enough to be good enough. The plot was unoriginal but comforting in its familiarity; Macy was not as memorable as main characters ought to be, but she was written with some care and her emotional and interpersonal obstacles explored; and the supporting characters were sweet and funny, but at times were more like facades of complex human beings. Everything in the book felt like it had the capacity to become something more, but the outcomes were muted, subdued.
However, to go back to why I set out to read this book in the first place — The Truth About Forever satisfied that need, though the ending left so much more to be desired and ended too abruptly. Nonetheless, for what it is, The Truth About Forever is a lighthearted and comforting read. I will, however, give more of Sarah Dessen’s books a go in the future. I did enjoy her writing; perhaps The Truth About Forever was just not for me.
Book Name: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group