The Truth about Forever

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The Truth About Forever

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A New York Times bestseller
Expect the unexpected.
Macy’s got her whole summer carefully planned.
But her plans didn’t include a job at Wish Catering. And they certainly didn’t include Wes.
But Macy soon discovers that the things you expect least are sometimes the things you need most.
“Dessen gracefully balances comedy with tragedy and introduces a complex heroine worth getting to know.” —Publishers Weekly
Also by Sarah Dessen:
Along for the Ride
Just Listen
Keeping the Moon
Lock and Key
The Moon and More
Someone Like You
That Summer
This Lullaby
What Happened to Goodbye

The summer following her father's death, Macy plans to work at the library and wait for her brainy boyfriend to return from camp, but instead she goes to work at a catering business where she makes new friends and finally faces her grief.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Sarah Dessen, author of That Summer and Someone Like You -- the two books that inspired the film How to Deal -- brings audiences a stirring tale of girl-meets-cool-boy, featuring structured Macy, whose new summer job helps her turn the page to a happier chapter in life. With familiar romantic themes, and the smooth character and plot development that have made the previous novels successes, Dessen weaves a solid story, beginning with our introduction to a girl who witnessed her father's death a year prior and has a less than affectionate boyfriend. But when Macy gets hit with relationship change and a no-excitement library job, she suddenly takes a job at Wish Catering, soon realizing that her welcoming co-workers and the business's disorderly atmosphere -- not to mention dreamy, artistic Wes -- are helping her come to terms with the past. In the end, Macy breaks free of her shell and rediscovers her forward-thinking self, finishing with a bang that will have any Dessen diehard cheering long after the last chapter. So far, the author has made a name for herself at writing down-to-earth novels of self-empowerment and romance, and this read will sit well alongside This Lullaby in particular. Although not necessarily original at its core, Dessen's sixth novel pulses with marvelous energy in her signature voice, sure to garner ample praise and keep her growing fan base eager for more. Shana Taylor
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

  • ISBN-13: 9781615564149
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/6/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is one of the most popular writers for young adults. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews, and have sold more than seven million copies. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine. Visit her online at


Although she was born in Illinois, YA novelist Sarah Dessen has spent most of her life in Chapel Hill, NC. Both of her parents were professors at the University of North Carolina, where Sarah studied creative writing and graduated with a degree in English.

As far back as she can remember, Dessen has always wanted to write. She remembers churning out wildly imaginative stories on an old manual typewriter her parents gave her when she was eight or nine years old. So it was only natural that after college she would forego a "real job," choosing instead to support herself by waiting tables at a local eatery while trying to publish a novel. In 1996, just three years after graduation, she sold her first book, the witty, wry coming-of-age story That Summer. A second novel, Someone Like You, followed two years later. (In 2003, these two books were loosely adapted into the movie How to Deal, starring teen sensation Mandy Moore.)

Dessen claims she never set out to be a YA writer, but somehow her memories always bring her back to high school, a time and place that resonates strongly for her. Living in her hometown where she is still in contact with many childhood friends, she finds it pretty easy to get in touch with her "inner teenager." In addition, the books she read from that time have a special, magical staying power. She explains it this way on her website:

"[W]hile I couldn't tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die or Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them."
If one can judge from her growing fan base and continued presence on the bestseller lists, Dessen can safely say "mission accomplished."

Good To Know

Here are some fun facts about Sarah Dessen:

  • Most of Dessen's books are set in the fictional town of Lakeview and feature recurring locales and characters.

  • Dessen also teaches creative writing at her alma mater, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Among her confessed addictions, Dessen counts the Gap clearance rack, Starbucks mochas, multiple magazine subscriptions, and a penchant for black pants.

  • Dessen sometimes waxes nostalgic about her days as a waitress. "It was a great job for a writer, " she says. "Endless conversations to eavesdrop, tons of material, and fast money without ever taking work home."

  • In Just Listen, the character of Owen Armstrong was named for the young protagonist in John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, as well as for Lance Armstrong, one of Dessen's proclaimed crushes.

  • Concerning her "tendency to embellish," Dessen says: "I think it's just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it's hard not to do it all the time."

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      1. Hometown:
        Chapel Hill, NC
      1. Date of Birth:
        June 6, 1970
      2. Place of Birth:
        Evanston, Illinois
      1. Education:
        University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, degree in English.

    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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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 1804 )
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1810 Customer Reviews
    • Posted June 23, 2011

      I Also Recommend:


      The perfect read for hot summer days!

      23 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 22, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      The Truth about Forever

      Sarah Dessen is a good writer, creating believable and relatable characters that very adequately reflect what teens are like. My favorite part of the books I've read by her is the dialogue, which, if you examine carefully, is unique to whichever character she's writing about. Sarah creates well-rounded characters. And it's probably her biggest skill.
      Macy Queen is quite a confused young woman. Her father died, and grief-stricken Macy keeps blaming herself. Worse, she comes to think that if she can just keep things at a constant, that is, perfectly still, she can control her life. And that's her biggest flaw: this unfailing faith in perfection that she simply won't snap out of.
      Enter Wes and the whole Wish Catering crew. They help Macy come to life-altering realizations about the controlled forever she keeps thinking she can attain. Wes, especially, helps her see that the future--the eventual forever--is about changes and imperfections and learning from your mistakes, not a present that moves forward with time, never changing.
      The story had a nice message. It was well written. The characters--Wes, in particular--were for the most part great. I don't know how else to elaborate on it, because, to me, this book speaks for itself.

      19 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted January 26, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Mrs. Dessen..... YOU ROCK!

      What an amazing author this women clearly know what teens want to read, the world that we want to escape for just a little while. She creates very believable charecters, it actually seems that while you're reading you pretty much know them. The Truth About Forever is my favorite novel from Sarah Dessen it's such a sweet loving book, i could read it over and over again.

      15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 14, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      Favorite Book in the World

      When I was first told to read this book I kind of hesitated. But when I actually started to read it I couldn't put it down. I absolutely love it. I re-read it every time I have a chance. It is honestly my favorite book in the world. I recommend it to everyone. Sarah Dessen is truly an inspiration to me. It has an endless friendships, a growing relationship that turns into love,the truest friends that anyone can ask for. It is just a great book over-all.

      11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted March 31, 2009

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      I Also Recommend:

      This is a coming of age tale

      This is a coming of age tale about a girl who lost her father, whom she was very close to and feels as if she lost a piece of herself too. It was very touching how she met and befriended the lovely Wes and the rest of the catering crew. She learns through experiences with them that she has know who she is the whole time and should always remember that!
      This was one of the best books i've ever read and have re-read about 3 times. it's touching and you learn so much about yourself when reading it.

      10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted March 4, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Unbelievably Amazing

      This is my all-time favorite book by Sarah Dessen. I am absolutely amazed by her writing skills. The plot is really good! It was really emotional, but an excellent love story for those of you seeking one. It really helps you learn how to follow your heart and make decisions you'll never regret. The characters, very interesting. I loved all of them. Two thumbs up! Looking for other amazing love stories? Check my recommended choices.

      10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 17, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      Loved it!!!

      I don't think I have ever read a book that is so simple and yet so good... This one gets added to the re-read pile.

      6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 3, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

      I think that every girl should read this book. It changed the books that I read, and how I think about things. It is truly as essential to a girl as a purse and credit card. ;)

      6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 26, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Makes You Think.

      I think all of Sarah Dessen's books are amazing. They all make you think, this one included. When you are finished, it makes you want to be a better person, and makes you reflect on how to live your life. A very girly book, but recommended to read during the teen years, to keep you going when it gets tough.

      6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 24, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      i fell in love (:

      from the first chapter in, i fell in love with this book. i thought it was going to be another book with an overused plot, but i was happily surprised. macy was so relatable, i felt like i actually knew her. and as she fell in love with wes, so did i. i would reccomend this book to anyone and everyone!

      5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted October 18, 2008

      amazing book!

      the truth about forever is definitely one of my all-time favorite books. I highly encourage anyone to read it. sarah dessen writes so many good books and this one was unforgetable!

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 3, 2012

      This story was so life like. It wasn't one of those books you re

      This story was so life like. It wasn't one of those books you read and think "this never happens in really life." I had such a connection to the characters. I love Wes, I would date a boy like him in a heart beat. The bad artist that is trying to turn his life around. Macy is a good girl that is just begging for an adventure. The Truth About Forever was the first book I read by sarah and now I'm hooked. If you love a good love story, like me you should try this book out.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 21, 2012

      Best Book Ever!!!!!

      This is by far the best book from Sarah Dessen! I love all her books but this one is just.... (hmmm... looking for a word).. well, let's just say it was the best book ever ;) It's so funny how whenever Wes is mentioned in the book I squeal. It's sooo cute! I've re- read this book a million times! Never gets old... and never will ;D

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 15, 2012

      You get to see the two worlds she walks through...

      This book was a good read. You read as Macy goes through her grief and gets a new bond with her mother. She opens a whole new side of her life that is different, but she's somehow completely comfortable with it. She learns so much. This book is a must read.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 2, 2010

      Highly Recomend it to young readers

      everyone 18 and under should read this book i loved it adn i usually dont read i think you should read it

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 7, 2010

      Slow to get into but good overall

      This book was surprisingly a slow read to me, which was shocking especially because of its many fans. The story is about a girl named Macy who is affected by her father's death that she witnessed a few years back. She stopped running and pushed many of her friends away, all while attaining her perfect boyfriend, Jason. He went away to a summer camp and soon realized they weren't right together and sent her a breakup email. Macy ended up quitting her job at the library, which was mainly a placeholder for Jason while he was away, and picked up the job with the WISH Catering company that catered her mother's party. While working with WISH she formed friendships with the workers and formed an even stronger bond with Wes. They invented a game called Truth where they would tell each other deep truth's about themselves that no one else knew. Despite the intriguing plotline, I just though it was somewhat poorly written. I liked the ending though where the message about forever was revealed by Dessen. It became powerful and it's something that I can take with me throughout the rest of my life.

      3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 6, 2010

      An interesting story

      The Truth About Forever has an interesting plot. The protagonist, a girl named Macy, strives for perfection in many ways such as, a perfect boyfriend, perfect family and a perfect job. But after her father's unexpected death Macy turned emotionally unstable. She gave up running, her passion, isolated herself from her friends, and devoted herself to what she thought was her perfect boyfriend. By making herself perfect, she could make things right again, long time after her father's demise. Macy's life comes to a juncture when she meets the Wish Catering crew from whom she learned that life isn't all about being perfect but about living to the fullest. She joins the catering business; her new co-workers are hesitant at first, but grow to love Macy. She starts to grow fond of this guy named Wes but she doesn't know what to do since she's kind of in a relationship with this perfect guy from school named Jason. However, when she sees Wes with his girlfriend, she loses hope that they could ever work out. Her mom has a breakdown, and she tells Wes that she doesn't want to be with him, even though she does. She finally realizes that she doesn't want to lose a good thing, especially when she learns Wes broke up with his girlfriend that night, and after playing another round of Truth, they get together, and she runs again for the first time in years. The story portrays how someone gets back on track to live an ordinary life from the darkest hours of one's life.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 27, 2010

      An Amazing Book

      This book was amazing. I read it all in like 3 days. This book brings you into the life of Macy, who with the help of new friends, finds herself. This book will make your cry and laugh. I will defiantly re-read this book again. :)

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 17, 2010


      AMAZING! i hope to have a Wes someday...

      3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 27, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      One of My Favorite Books

      The Truth about Forever is definately a great book. I recommend it to everybody. All my friends have read it and loved it. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. It is very well written and I could really relate to the characters. Like all of Sarah Dessen's books, it has a good story line and the main character grows throughout the book. And of course it has a happy ending. If you like Sara Dessen's other books, then this one wont dissapoint you. Its great to read again and again.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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