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
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.
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.
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 itThe 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 wronga 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 livesthe 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.
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.
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)