Tuesday, 7 August 2018

#CBR10 Book 57: "The Truth About Forever" by Sarah Dessen

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Macy used to love running and was very good at it, until one morning, her father (and coach) had a heart attack, and now, Macy doesn't do that anymore. Instead, she keeps her life strictly regimented and works very hard at her school work, so as to not have to think too hard about her feelings. This summer, her boyfriend Jason is going away to "brain camp" and she will fill in for him at the library helpdesk. She will study for her SATs and help her realtor mother with open houses.

After Macy sends Jason an e-mail where she tells him that she loves and misses him, he responds by saying that maybe they should take a break. Jason's two friends at the library help desk pretty much treat her like a halfwit, if they even vaguely acknowledge her, so Macy pretty much hates her job there. On impulse, she takes a second summer job with Wish Catering, where chaos pretty much seems to reign during every job, but the staff have fun together and everything always seems to work out, no matter how disastrous things seem along the way. She makes a friend, the outspoken Kristy, and starts developing a crush on the quiet and mysterious Wes, who understands her grief after losing his mother to cancer.

Macy's summer turns out rather differently than she was expecting and her mother is not very happy once she discovers just how much time Macy is spending with the crew at Wish. When she tries to forbid Macy from working there, the cracks in their already strained relationships start showing.

On pretty much any list of YA recommendations there will be one or several books by Sarah Dessen. This book will probably feature, which is why it's been on my TBR list for so long. I bought a copy in an e-book sale over three years ago, but still didn't actually sit down and read this (or Just Listen, which I also got). So this is my first Sarah Dessen book, and I can absolutely see why she comes so highly recommended.

Forever Young Adult, one of the many review sites I follow online, made a list of their 25 swooniest beach reads earlier this summer. As the harrowing news cycle keeps reminding us that every day is a step closer to post-apocalyptic dystopia, I find that a lot of books, movies and TV is too much for me to handle right now. I gravitate towards light, fluffy and easily digested fare, such as romance. Jane the Virgin is fine, when we watch The Expanse, my husband (who has already seen season two with a friend) has to browse the episode summaries to warn me, lest I get too upset by the show. As it turns out, now that I've read quite a few of these books in July, not all the books, while swoony, are as fluffy and light-hearted as you might think at first.

At the core of this book is Macy and her mother's need to process the death of Macy's father. Neither of them speak about it or have in any serious way dealt with it, they just keep to strictly regimented schedules and keep busy, busy, busy, so they don't have to contemplate it at all. Macy's older sister Caroline tries to get her mother to work less and for Macy to lighten up more and have fun, but has a hard time of it, at least early on in the book. Obviously, this situation is untenable and as the book progresses, cracks start to show in the perfect facade Macy and her mother show to the world.

There is absolutely a pretty swoony romance featured in this book, but the main story is really Macy coming out of her shell and learning to process her grief. She doesn't really have any friends of her own any more, since she's avoiding anything to do with running. Her horrible boyfriend Jason seems to view her more as some sort of assistant, and his friends clearly all despise her (or are jealous of her, it's never really answered). Macy desperately needs the fun crew at Wish Catering (with a lot of loss and grief in their own past) to take her under their wings.

I'm so glad I finally read this book, even if it was a more serious and different book from what I was expecting (several of the books on the "swoony beach reads" list turn out to focus on grief and loss, make of that what you will - maybe loss leads to greater romantic potential?). Now I need to track down more Sarah Dessen to see if they're all this good.

#CBR10Bingo: White Whale - was on my TBR list for more years than I can count

Judging a book by its cover: I'm not wild about this rather generic cover. There's nothing even vaguely resembling a "he loves me, he loves me not" scene in the book, which this cover seems to want to evoke - couldn't they have chosen something to represent Macy better, or something like a piece of Wes' art or something? This is blah.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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