Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Truth About Forever - a review

The Truth About Forever
Sarah Dessen
384 pages


Note: I'm going to Sarah Dessen this review. I'm going to start out all nice and friendly and then rip your heart out.

Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen. Macy, Macy, Macy. Wes, Wes, Wes. Sarah Dessen. Dessen. Dessen. Sarah. Dessen. This is not a bad example of alliteration. These are names I muttered while reading The Truth About Forever.

Examples:
"Sarah Dessen. Oh how I love you."
"Macy, Macy, Macy. What are you doing?"
"Wes. Wes. Wes. Get your head out of your ass, man."

This is another one of those Are They Gonna Hook Up Novels that I've been into recently. It started with Stephanie Perkins and all of her goodies, and it's turning into an obsession all its own. I blame my 9th grade English teacher and her interpretation of Romeo & Juliet for this.

Does Macy like Wes? Does Wes like Macy? It's kind of hard to tell, it's really freakin' hard to tell. Because--as I'm learning with Sarah--she doesn't always put these things right up front. Instead I'm sympathizing with Macy over the loss of her father. Or feeling anger for her after her boyfriend sends her a break-up email (an email, really?). Or I'm curious about Wes, because there's a deeper side of him that's not being shown, and you can tell something is going on with him.

What makes a good Are They Gonna Hook Up Novel is a complete lack of doubt that the two people involved--in this case Macy and Wes--will never be together. This formula, while old, can be pulled off. In the case of Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins) there was serious doubt, making it a great book. In the case of Lola and the Boy Next Door (Stephanie Perkins, again), there was never a doubt the two would hookup, making it a not so great book.*

So what we really need is anticipation and doubt mixed with a little WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU TWO? because without that anger, I'm just not going to be happy with the outcome.

So I had anticipation. I had doubt (I still have doubt). I have that WHAT THE F**CK IS WRONG WITH YOU TWO? and I have--and will continue to have--a growing fondness of all things Sarah related. So what went wrong?

There is something I didn't like about this incredible little book with great characters and a nice story and a lot of awww moments, and a lot of damnnnn moments, and a few WTF moments. I was 95% done with The Truth About Forever when it hit me: I am reading a book about the loss of a parent and enjoying it.

So there isn't anything wrong with this book. Not a damn thing. It was my response to it that I blame. It's not  as light-hearted and airy as a Perkins novel. That comparison does not work. It's more dark and sinister and heavy then I originally thought. But this is what Sarah Dessen does well. She takes her characters, gives them issues, and heals them as much as possible (no one can be completely healed). Then she sets the characters free.

This book is not a Are They Gonna Hook Up Novel. This book is another Dutch Tulip Man. A bundle of possibilities and doubt with a heavy subject and knack for pissing me off at the right moments. Five out of out, Sarah. A fucking five out of five.

Full Disclosure: I purchased this at Half-Priced Books.
*I thought it was okay.

30 comments:

  1. You're a sucker for these contemporary ya issue books, aren't you? While I did enjoy this one, their plots eventually, start to run together for me. I get tired of the - I've got issues that I haven't dealt with, but I like you, and then, oh wait, we're 80% of the way through the story, time to pull these characters apart in anticipation of the big finale! It's getting hard for me to look beyond the formula, which is unfortunate for me.

    Did you see the reference to these characters in Lock and Key?

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    1. I am! It's a whole new world to me, because as a guy I've always shed away from those kinds of books.

      That is starting to happen to me. So I'm going to enjoy the contemporary ride while I can.

      I did. It was Nate (if I remember correctly).

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    2. Hmm. I read this one first, so I don't remember Nate. But in Lock and Key, Wes' brother goes to the mall with Kristy. He's wearing an end of the world shirt. And I think Wes and Macy show up in just listen.

      I've been searching out contemp ya that break this mold. One of my most recent faves is Slammed by Colleen Hoover. It's an indie book. Not sure if you read self-published... Also really like Five Flavors of Dumb. But I will stop with the recommendations, because they are unsolicited. Though I am a "reader" of YA >> (look! I know the lingo!).

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    3. Hmm. I wish I would've read this one first instead of Lock and Key. I would've appreciated that little nod. I like it when writers do that.

      I have heard of both of those. One of them (I think) is on my TBR.

      I haven't had any self-published recommended to me, although I do tend to avoid them.

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  2. Oh yeah! LoLa makes a good point - as you read some of her more recent novels keep a lookout for old characters to pop up!

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    1. I am definently going to do that. I have two others of hers to read.

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  3. I love how begrudgingly you bestow your five stars. :)

    I with LoLa, I love Sarah Dessen, but I've found that I have to space them out or I won't enjoy the later ones as much! And I love getting the little peeks at what is going on with characters from other books.

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    1. Noted. I need a break from contemporary again anyways.

      I'm working on coming up with a rating system...

      I love crossovers! I was not expecting it sp I was glad when it popped up.

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  4. amazing review. i completely agree with everything. i love sarah dessen books because they're just so real. it's not just a cute love story, it's so much more with REALISTIC problems.

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    1. Thank you!

      Yes. I like that she doesn't just give her characters boy problems or girl problems, but actual real flaws and issues. It"s been refreshing.

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  5. Nice review. I have been waiting for your thoughts on this book.
    I actually read this book because of your review of "Lock and Key". I had this sitting around, gathering dust, but your excellent review made me want to read a Sarah Dessen book ASAP.

    I really, really, liked this book. It had me hooked to it almost from the beginning. I liked that it was not your typical girl with boy issues (I usually don't read contemporary YA). I like how the story had so much depth and feeling.
    I see what you mean about enjoying the book while it deals with the death of a parent, but I appreciate all the emotions that were pulled out of me. I love books that can do that to me. Whether it's happy or sad ones. I felt like the book had me in sync better than my Ipod to Itunes. I really appreciated how it dealt with that issue in such a realistic way.
    Thanks for your review, once again.

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    1. Thank you! Awww. I want everyone to read Sarah Dessen now. I'm glad I could get you to read it.

      I was so much more hooked on this one than Lock and Key. Lock and Key had a lot of secondary characters that I didn't really like, but this one had tons of them.

      It's odd, isn't it? I was enjoying the book and laughing along with Macy and there's just her father's death lingering over me. I got a lot out of this one.

      "had me in sync better than my ipod to itunes"

      I love this. That's very true. Reading the book was extremely fluid.

      You're welcome!

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  6. Replies
    1. That is one of the ones I got at the store. :)

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  7. The more you talk about Sarah Dessen, the more I fear her. FEAR. I'm just saying. I DON'T LIKE ISSUES ADAM. But I feel like I NEED to read her stuff since she's from NC. I'm very torn and I don't like it!

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  8. Awesome review. I reserved this at the library like 2 weeks ago and can't wait too read it when it comes in now.

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    1. Love the John Green reference by the way.

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    2. Thank you.

      I have to reference John Green about once a week. I think it's a requirement to be a YA book blogger. We're all "all hail John Green" all the time.

      Yes! I need more guys to read this book. That way I don't feel so alone in the universe.

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  9. Oh please Dessen was rocking it long before Anna and Lola by Perkins even hit the shelf for the first time!

    Dessen does include more than just a fluffy story, she gives you something in each book and pulls on your heartstrings. This is my favorite Dessen book and I have read all of them but her newest one. I also really loved Just Listen. Not sure if you have read that one yet either but it does have the romance aspects as well as the deeper family and life issues that is a Dessen classic.

    Dessen will always rule YA Comtemps. :)

    Thanks for the great review!

    I see you are also currently reading A Northern Light, another favorite of mine! :)

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    1. I felt the comparison was necessary because Stephanie Perkins is fairly popular, but does not include the deep underlying issues that come from Dessen. It's why I am quickly falling head over heels for her.

      You're welcome!

      Yes. I, err, it was recommended to me by the woman who claims to run the Half-Priced Books YA section. She helped me track down the Dessen novels (Just Listen is one of them).

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    2. OH I didn't mean the comparison was a bad thing. I just know so many people are in love with Perkins and while I do like her books it just will never beat Dessen for me personally :)

      Lol I stay away from the women at my Half-Priced bookstore. They never really seem to know what they are talking about anyway. I help more people in bookstores than the people who are actually getting paid to do it.

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    3. Got it. I agree. I love Perkins but Dessen would beat her ass in a cage match.

      Really? I have a great Half-Priced here in Louisville. Go to B&N and a few are... iffy. But the rest are cool. I remember the Borders we had: it was awful.

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  10. This is my absolute favorite Dessen novel to date. As I said before, Literary. Fucking. Ninja.

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    1. I still want to rename my blog Literary Ninja. She's so good at hiding the issues right up front that sometimes you don't realize it's going on. Like with Nate in Lock & Key. She knows how to suck punch people for sure.

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  11. I love this: 'This book is another Dutch Tulip Man'. A 5 out of fucking 5 for this review!

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    1. Thank you April! I love Dessen but she can leave a lot up in the air when it comes to endings. It's not that she leaves a lot unanswered, it's that she leaves me wondering what happens to the characters (which is a good thing).

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  12. Hahahaha your reviews crack me up and the cuss words make it that much more awesome LOL Cheers!

    P.S. Half-Priced Books FTW!

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    1. I have a love/hate relationship with curse words. I like to use them but I know I shouldn't.

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