The Truth about Forever

The Truth about Forever

4.6 1815
by Sarah Dessen

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Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-asdishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into… See more details below


Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-asdishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it….

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When her boyfriend goes away for the summer, Macy, still grieving for her recently deceased father, must make it on her own. "Dessen gracefully balances comedy with tragedy and introduces a complex heroine worth getting to know," according to PW. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Macy begins her summer by telling her boyfriend, Jason, "goodbye" as he leaves to spend the next two months at Brain Camp. Jason is perfect in every way and makes Macy feel she has to be perfect too. She knows he challenges her, but she feels she needs this to avoid dealing with the death of her father. Her mother believes that the stress of her job keeps her from mourning his death. After receiving an e-mail from Macy ending in "I love you" Jason considers their relationship a distraction for him. He replies, explaining that they should take a break. When Macy decides to take a catering job, everything changes. She meets a fearless girl who informs her that it is impossible to be perfect. She also meets a guy who shows her how to remember her dad. Her mom observes these changes but does not see how much happier Macy is. If only Macy could get through to her mom, she would see that facing up to their loss is hard but necessary. I feel that Dessen does an incredible job of identifying the difficulties that come with losing someone. She points out how a person can react to a tragedy in many ways and how not reacting to the past can damage one's future. This book suggests that hope can follow loss. This novel captivates its readers by allowing them to get involved by placing themselves in the story. Although it will appeal most strongly to females, everyone can enjoy the entertaining elements throughout the narrative. 2004, Viking, Ages 12 up.
—Sarah Tuten
Dessen does a good job of making the characters seem real by the way they talk and the way they react to things. This book starts out slowly but then picks up speed. Dessen stresses an important theme in the book: Forever is always changing and you have to keep moving forward in life. I think that many teenage girls will be able to relate to it. VOYA Codes 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Viking/Penguin Putnam, 320p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Kristen Moreland, Teen Reviewer
Each one of Dessen's previous YA novels has been named an ALA Best Book for YAs, and this one probably will be as well. I reviewed This Lullaby, Dessen's last novel, and loved it—The Truth About Forever shares some of the strengths of that book. Macy, the narrator, is smart and sensitive. Since the death of her beloved father a few years ago, her life and even her personality have changed: she has given up running (she was a champion) and has retreated into a rigid personality, trying to please her equally distraught mother who is a driven businesswoman. Macy has chosen a boyfriend, Jason, who can do no wrong—a genius with a lot of ambition. But now, this summer, Jason is going away for a few months and Macy is poised for change again. The change comes with a group of caterers hired for one of Macy's mother's events, and this group of people becomes the core of the story (this is a long story, with plenty of room for numerous characters.) The catering company is called Wish, and each member of the crew helps Macy relax and come alive, especially Wes, a sculptor who moonlights with his aunt, who owns Wish. Wes takes care of his younger brother, and everyone is still mourning the death of Wes's mother who was co-owner of Wish. Wes and Macy are friends throughout most of this story, confidants who understand something essential about each other. Certainly both know how devastating the death of a parent is. At almost 400 pages, readers have a chance to really live with these characters, enjoying many details of their daily lives—the wacky stresses of catering, the psychology of grief, complicated mother-daughter relationships, and evolving love between two intelligent, capableyoung people. The truth about forever? "It was always changing, it was what everything was really all about. It was twenty minutes, or a hundred years, or just this instant, or any instant I wished would last, and last." KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Random House, Viking, 382p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Macy, 16, witnessed her father's death, but has never figured out how to mourn. Instead, she stays in control-good grades, perfect boyfriend, always neat and tidy-and tries to fake her way to normal. Then she gets a job at Wish Catering. It is run by pregnant, forgetful Delia and staffed by her nephews, Bert and Wes, and her neighbors Kristy and Monica. "Wish" was named for Delia's late sister, the boys' mother. Working and eventually hanging out with her new friends, Macy sees what it's like to live an unprescripted lifestyle, from dealing with kitchen fires to sneaking out at night, and slowly realizes it's not so bad to be human. Wes and Macy play an ongoing game of Truth and share everything from gross-outs to what it feels like to watch someone you love die. They fall in love by talking, and the author sculpts them to full dimension this way. All of Dessen's characters, from Macy, who narrates to the bone, to Kristy, whose every word has life and attitude, to Monica, who says almost nothing but oozes nuance, are fully and beautifully drawn. Their dialogue is natural and believable, and their care for one another is palpable. The prose is fueled with humor-the descriptions of Macy's dad's home-shopping addiction are priceless, as is the goofy bedlam of catering gigs gone bad-and as many good comedians do, Dessen uses it to throw light onto darker subjects. Grief, fear, and love set the novel's pace, and Macy's crescendo from time-bomb perfection to fallible, emotional humanity is, for the right readers, as gripping as any action adventure.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Macy declined Dad's early-morning invitation to jog, changed her mind, and ran out to catch him, only to see him die of a heart attack before her eyes. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, she sets about guaranteeing that every aspect of her life is controlled, perfect, safe-from her academically ambitious but unaffectionate boyfriend, to her tidiness, to her boring summer job at the library information desk. When Macy's cautious self-discipline collides with Wish Catering, its offbeat staff, and its wacky crisis management, readers can pretty much predict the outcome. Macy will be teased out of her cocoon and grief by a new job with the caterer and new friends (including romantic hunk Wes) into their messy, lively, creative world. The plot is too conventional, some secondary characters are stock, the storm that brings everyone together at the end is too handy, but the Wish team is lovable, the romance clicks, and readers will be entertained. (Fiction. 12-14)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
840L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

My mother had called me once ("Macy, honey, people are starting to arrive") and then twice ("Macy? Honey?") but still I was in front of the mirror, parting and reparting my hair. No matter how many times I swiped at it with my comb, it still didn't look right.

Once, I didn't care so much about appearances. I knew the basics: that I was somewhat short for my age, with a round face, brown eyes, and faint freckles across my nose that had been prominent, but now you had to lean in close to see. I had blonde hair that got lighter in the summer time, slightly green if I swam too much, which didn't bother me since I was a total track rat, the kind of girl to whom the word hairstyle was defined as always having a ponytail elastic on her wrist. I'd never cared about how my body or I looked -- what mattered was what it could do and how fast it could go. But part of my new perfect act was my appearance. If I wanted people to see me as calm and collected, together, I had to look the part.

It took work. Now, my hair had to be just right, lying flat in all the right places. If my skin was not cooperating, I bargained with it, applying concealer and a slight layer of foundation, smoothing out all the red marks and dark circles. I could spend a full half hour getting the shadowing just right on my eyes, curling and recurling my eyelashes, making sure each was lifted and separated as the mascara wand moved over them, darkening, thickening. I moisturized. I flossed. I stood up straight. I was fine.

"Macy?" My mother's voice, firm and cheery, floated up the stairs. I pulled the comb through my hair, then stepped back from the mirror, letting it fall into the part again. Finally: perfect. And just in time.

When I came downstairs, my mother was standing by the door, greeting a couple who was just coming in with her selling smile: confident but not off-putting, welcoming but not kiss-ass. Like me, my mother put great stock in her appearance. In real estate, as in high school, it could make or break you.

"There you are," she said, turning around as I came down the stairs. "I was getting worried."

"Hair issues," I told her, as another couple came up the front walk. "What can I do?"

She glanced into the living room, where a group of people were peering at a design of the new townhouses that was tacked up on the wall. My mother always had these cocktail parties when she needed to sell, believing the best way to assure people she could build their dream house was to show off her own. It was a good gimmick, even if it did mean having strangers traipsing through our downstairs.

"If you make sure the caterers have what they need," she said to me now, "that would be great. And if it looks like we're running low on brochures, go out and get another box from the garage." She paused to smile at a couple as they crossed the foyer. "Oh," she said, "and if anyone looks like they're looking for a bathroom7150"

"Point them toward it graciously and with the utmost subtlety," I finished. Bathroom detail/directions were, in fact, my specialty.

"Good girl," she said, as a woman in a pantsuit came up the walk. "Welcome!" my mother called out, pushing the door open wider. "I'm Deborah Queen. Please come in. I'm so glad you could make it!"

My mother didn't know this person, of course. But part of selling was treating everyone like a familiar face.

"Well, I just love the neighborhood," the woman said as she stepped over the threshold. "I noticed you were putting up some new townhouses, so I thought I'd..."

"Let me show you a floor plan. Did you see that all the units come with two-car garages? You know, a lot of people don't even realize how much difference a heated garage can make."

And with that, my mother was off and running. Hard to believe that once schmoozing was as painful to her as multiple root canals. But when you had to do something, you had to do it. And eventually, if you were lucky, you did it well.

Queen Homes, which my dad had started right out of college as a one-man trim carpenter operation, already had a good business reputation when he met my mother. Actually, he hired her. She was fresh out of college with an accounting degree, and his finances were a shambles. She'd come in, waded through his paperwork and receipts (many of which were on bar napkins and matchbooks), handled a close call with the IRS (he'd "forgotten" about his taxes a few years earlier), and gotten him into the black again. Somewhere in the midst of all of it, they fell in love. They were the perfect business team: he was all charm and fun and everyone's favorite guy to buy a beer. My mother was happy busying herself with file folders and The Bigger Picture. Together, they were unstoppable.

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