Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER

The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
(no joke! I actually read one, yay!)
# of pages: 374 (pb)
Publisher: Viking, Penguin
The Truth About Forever is the first Sarah Dessen book I've ever read, and most of you guys (and people I know in real life) recommended that I start with this book, first for the reason that it's the lightest read (as compared to the 2 other Dessen books in my TBR pile - Just Listen and Lock and Key) and also, because of the freaking gorgeous cover design. I mean LOOK AT IT! That flower and the white in the background...beautiful!
For the most part, I was very impressed with TTAF and I enjoyed it immensely. This is the first Young Adult Contemporary novel I've read/reviewed on this site...meaning that I mostly stay in the realm of fantasy and dystopian. My excuse has always been that those books "feed my need for escapist fiction" and because they're just more interesting. But there's an exception to every rule or principle, and Sarah Dessen books are the exception to the "fantasy rules, contemp drools" (sorry, that was just a joke. Every genre has merit, and they do not 'drool.' I was just kidding. Please do not un-follow me!)
Anyway, I was amazed at how easy it was to absorb myself in the world of Macy Queen, an ordinary high school girl who has long channeled her grief into an excessive drive to please everyone around her...but herself. There's just something about the Dessen's writing that is absolutely captivating, and I had a much, much easier time reading this than the *other* book I'm currently trying to get through (Beautiful Creatures).
Another thing that impressed me was the strong cast of characters. Everybody in this story was relevant and strongly written, even the smaller supporting characters. Dessen knows how to create quirky, lovable and truly unique characters. I especially found the Wish Catering crew (monotone Monica and hyperactive Bert in particular!) enjoyable. The only character that I feel divided on is Kristy. Part of me really liked her and appreciated the insight she provided for Macy, and another part of me, the practical side, wanted to just shake her and say "what are you doing?!?!"
So I really liked seeing Macy grow and learn more about herself over the course of the story. Dessen is a master of subtlety, but there were times, truthfully, when I wish she would have been more explicit in the points she was trying to make. There were several times, particularly towards the end, when I thought I could see the point Dessen was trying to make, but didn't think she made it very strongly. As much as I enjoyed TTAF, I think it could have been "put together" a bit more strongly at the end. I don't know if that makes sense, and maybe it is because this is one of Dessen's lighter books, but it could have done with more intensity. Wes and Macy's relationship, while adorable, didn't come together for me due to what I perceived as a lack of emotional intensity. Their games of "Truth" were a good way to learn more about each other, sure, but they never really seemed to talk about anything "substantial" for very long, and so it didn't seem quite as "AWWWW, SWEET!" when they got together at the end.
And because this is my review, and I am always honest, I have to mention one complaint that severely lowered my enjoyability of the book. Here's the thing: I am all for the message of needing to "live a little" in life, and making decisions for yourself, not just living to please other people... I totally get that, and I liked seeing Macy come out of her introverted shell in the novel. But here's what I didn't like. I didn't like the perceived message that these changes came "brought to you in part by drinking and partying." What soured me on the story was the encouragement of this behavior, and the message to teens that they're missing out on life if they're not sneaking out and going to parties where they're "minors in possession." That really REALLY didn't sit well with me, and it didn't just happen once, it happened several times. In one instance, God only knows what would have happened to Macy if she hadn't been taken out of a particular situation at a party. As an aside, I also think it's weird that out of all the reviews I've read for *this* book, both here and on Goodreads, I only saw one that mentioned this point.
?? Are the rest of the readers out there just okay with the drinking and partying scene? I just think it's a little weird that no one else (save one person) had a problem with that. But okay.
I guess I'm just different...
But overall, this book was incredibly enjoyable. I have Just Listen and Lock and Key waiting on my bookshelf. I was going to try and space apart my Dessen books (didn't want to load up all at once and have the plots all run together) but I really, REALLY want to start JL!!
I'm so glad I read this book. And the cover design is gorgeous! Just looking at it makes me smile. Thank you to everyone who recommended this book!

Final Grade:
I could have gone with either an "A-" or a "B+," but I really did enjoy it overall, even if it may not sound like it in my review. And despite my one *major* complaint, I thought this was a very decent and overall enjoyable read. And since I'm in a good mood, I went ahead and gave this an A grade :)


9 shout-outs!:

Savannah said...

Glad you enjoyed this book. After reading this I asked myself What is the truth about forever? That had me pondering about if for days. Just listen is my favorite so far. Lock and Key was great and inspired me to make a key. (You'll see why when you read it) Great review :)

Adriana said...

I also tend to read very little YA contemporary for the same reasons as you, but when I pick up a book in that genre I usually end up enjoying it. I've only read Dreamland by Sarah Dessen and thought it was okay, but haven't really given much thought to reading her other books. I might try one of her other books eventually. As for the drinking and partying in books, it doesn't really bother me since that was pretty much the norm for me and could relate. I still always make a point to mention underage drinking and drug use in my reviews.

Dazzling Mage said...

I can't wait to read Dessen's other books. I loved her characters in Lock and Key, and the family situations seemed positively realistic. Great review. =)

Lale said...

I think Just Listen is definitely my favorite of hers! :) And after that, maybe This Lullaby...

Allie said...

This was the first Dessen I read, and for that reason I think I still consider it my favorite. But, I really believe that Lock and Key is her best. It is simply beautiful.

Rose I. Cunningham said...

I'm glad you liked it! And that is a really great review. I agree with your major complaint, and sometimes it tends to be that way in Dessen's books. I guess party scenes are dramatic and are fast-paced for readers...maybe...I don't really like them either. I loved the Wish Catering people as well!!! They were my favourites! Also, I hope you enjoy Just Listen. It is REALLY amazing! =)

Melissa said...

I love this honest review, Amelia. I love contemp. fiction, but it's so hit and miss these days. I find a lot of stories lack the true essence of change :)

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

I read a Sarah Dessen book years ago when I was in grade school, but I can't remember which one it was. I have 3 of them in my TBR pile though, so I should really try to read at least one of them soon! Glad to hear that you enjoyed The Truth About Forever!

Christie (The Fiction Enthusiast) said...

Great review! I haven’t read anything by Sarah Dessen. I’ll have to see if my library has any of her books since so many seem to enjoy her writing.

 
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