BOOK REPORT for The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 9
Talky Talk: Straight Up Dessen
Bonus Factors: Wes, Bert, Monotone, Tasty Business, As Seen on TV, Eff You, Gotcha!
Relationship Status: Eternal Love
Ladies and gentlemen (er, Brian), the time has finally come for FYA to review a book from the canon of one of YA's most beloved and talented writers-- the one, the only, THE AMAZING SARAH DESSEN. I'm not even kidding when I say that I am truly honored to spazz with you about this book, because it is seriously my favorite one in her entire collection and considering that I want to marry all of her books this is like, THE HOLIEST OF THE HOLIES. I will try my damnedest to give The Truth About Forever the review it deserves, because every single girl in the world will not be living a complete life until THEY PICK UP THIS MASTERPIECE OF LITERATURE AND EXPERIENCE ITS AWESOME POWER.
Ever since her father died of a heart attack right in front of her, Macy Queen has been trying her hardest to be fine. Not just fine, actually, but perfect, because perfect means being in control, and being in control means nothing like that will ever happen again. She volunteers on a regular basis, dates the high school valedictorian and combs the part in her hair until it's straight as an arrow, just like her life. Everything is going according to plan until the day her boyfriend, Jason, emails from Brain Camp to say that it's obvs in their best interest as a couple to take a break. [Spoiler alert: JASON IS A TOOL.] With her ice queen composure suddenly shaken, Macy finds herself drawn to the chaos of Wish Catering, a company that recently worked at one of her mother's realty events. In spite of her safety pants nature, she begins working at Wish and spending time with its menagerie of employees, all of whom encourage her to LIVE A LITTLE SHEESH. Soon, Macy finds herself opening up to the world-- to life, to grief and, most fearfully, to Wes, the (SUPER SEXY) artist with a tragic past of his own.
BFF Charm: Yay!
It's impossible NOT to love all of Dessen's heroines, because they all seem to be regular girls, ordinary but far from boring, conflicted but never weak. I wanted to be besties with Macy from the get-go, although my motives for friendship shift as the story develops. When girlfriend is all sweater-setting it up, I want to ruffle up the part in her hair, give her a double vodka soda and take her out dancing at a gay club so we can LET LOOSE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. But as she begins to finally deal with her grief over the loss of her dad (LU COACH JOE), my heart aches for her, and I wish I could crawl into the book and put my arm around her and let her cry and then we could try to make s'mores in her microwave and of course they would tragically explode which would make me laaaugh and then Macy might get mad about the mess cos she's anal like that but I WOULD LOVE HER ANYWAY.
Fortunately for Macy, she actually gets a bestie that does ALL of the things I want to do, which can I point out is kinda rare in YA these days?!! What's up with all of these supposed bffs that suck? Anyhoo, because Sarah Dessen is a PRO, she doesn't pull crap like that, and Kristy, Macy's new friend at Wish, is the SASSIEST, MOST KICKASS BEST FRIEND EVER. The girl has huge scars on her face from a car accident and SHE DOESN'T GIVE A SHIZZ. She rocks the fashion like Claudia Kishi, dreams about meeting an "extraordinary" boy and, most importantly, tells it like it is. In fact, I'm about to give Kristy one of the greatest compliments I have EVER laid on a fictional character. Are you guys ready? Ok... she reminds me of... a teenage... DOLLY PARTON. Well, minus the twang, which I know kind of defeats the purpose but if you love Dolly, you get what I'm saying.
Not only does Kristy encourage Macy to tear down the walls she's so carefully built, she also does the one thing I could probably never, ever, EVER do: she doesn't get all bitchy about Macy's growing interest in wes, even though Kristy knew Wes first. In other words, she's practically Jesus.
Swoonworthy Scale: 9
As you may recall, Wes and Macy made my top ten swoonworthy YA couples list, so you know that I am NOT KIDDING AROUND WITH THIS HIGH SCORE. What's really impressive here is that Dessen doesn't use a lot of physical action-- in fact, she rarely does in any of her books, because she is THAT skilled at building an insane amount of chemistry through conversations and situations that feel like they could happen to any of us. What makes this book so swoonworthy is that everything between Wes and Macy seems, well, natural. Sure, there's a few gloriously dramatic moments, but for the most part, their relationship grows in an incredibly authentic way, which makes it all the more smoldering because it feels REAL. Macy and Wes aren't cliches; they're developed, they're compelling, and because I care so deeply about them, it makes it that much more urgent that they GET TOGETHER ALREADY COME THE EFF ON.
Nowhere is the swoon more sizzling than when Macy and Wes are playing the question game... that is, except for that scene when she asks him what it feels like to have all of the girls staring at him and OK I'LL SHUT UP NOW BUT OMG.
More on Wes on the bonus factor section. because I can't help myself.
Talky Talk: Straight Up Dessen
Why yes, this IS the Sarah Dessen love parade! Have some beads! No need to take yr top off, kthx!
In my mind, Sarah Dessen basically INVENTED the straight up talky talk, so I'm choosing to honor her today by adding her name to the term. Dessen's dialogue is incredibly believable, her descriptions spot on without being too flowery. she's always got a firm grasp on pacing, not to mention a way of writing characters so charming that I would hang out 24/7 at the Quick Zip just to try to
swimfan meet them. Check out this excerpt from Macy's head, when she asks Wes about the tattoo on his arm:
"So what is that?" I asked him, forcing the words out, then immediately realized I was looking at him, not his arm, so this question could concern just about anything. He raised his eyebrows, confused, and I added-- face flushing, God help me-- "your tattoo, I mean. I've never been able to see what it is."
This full sentence, an inquiry to boot, seemed to me on par with Helen Keller finally singing W-A-T-E-R. I mean, really.
And THAT is how straight up is done. BOOM!!!!
Bonus Factor: Wes
OH WES. I can't say yr name without sighing and placing a hand on my... STERNUM, PEOPLE. GAH. don't be pervy!
Now, I've reviewed a couple of other books featuring my future YA husbands, but Wes gets to be his own bonus factor because HE IS PERFECT. He's a reformed bad boy! He takes care of his little brother! He creates amazing sculptures from scrap metal! He drives a truck! He's smart! He's ridiculously good looking! And, most important of all, HE HATES THE SMELL OF PATCHOULI.
As Kristy likes to say: "SA-WOON!"
Bonus Factor: Bert
Ok I realize that I'm kinda breaking the rules by making characters bonus factors but HAVE YOU MET BERT? If so, then you know that there's not a single YA character like him and he's a total weirdo and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. He's totally awkward and wears way too much cologne and his favorite activity is attending Armageddon club meetings and SEE WHAT I MEAN?
Bonus Factor: Monotone
Ok, ok, I swear this is the last character bonus factor. But Monica, aka Monotone, really does deserve it. She's Kristy's sister, and she's pretty much her antithesis as well-- Kristy babbles, Monica says two words (and slurs them together because it's easier); Kristy is a sparkling ball of energy, Monica takes ten minutes to cross a room. Obvs you can guess why they call her Monotone. She's harder to explain than, say, Bert, but there's something about Monotone that just makes her endure in my heart. Occasionally, I'll use her trademark "Donneven," and even though no one else realizes I'm quoting her, it still makes me smile, like I'm sharing a private joke not only with her, but with the entire Wish Catering crew. BETTAQUIT!
Bonus Factor: Tasty Business
Y'ALL THEY WORK FOR A CATERING COMPANY. HELLO DREAM JOB. This book is full of meatballs and crab cakes and pastry puffs and the only unrealistic thing about the entire story is the fact that Macy doesn't gain five pounds.
Bonus Factor: As Seen On TV
Let's just say that if you like informercials, you're in luck.
Bonus Factor: Eff You
I'm a huge fan of what I like to call "Eff You" scenes, like when Julia Roberts is all "Big mistake. Big. HUGE." to that snobby saleswoman in Pretty Woman. Well, I'm not gonna spoil the details, but this book has one of the best Eff You moments EVERRRRRR. When you read it, SO MUCH FIST PUMPING WILL OCCUR. For those of you who have read the book, I'm talking about the thing... in the library... yeah. HELLS YEAH.
Bonus Factor: Gotcha!
Last one, I promise. So Wes and Bert play this game... well, I don't want to spoil that for you, either. But it adds such a funny, goofy touch to the book, and every time it happens, I totally crack up (not to mention fall more deeply in love with Wes and Bert).
Well, you already saw my choice for Wes:
Taylor Kitsch as Wes
Look, I know I need to cut back on the Riggs. I KNOW. But Sarah Dessen is actually a huge FNL fan and even though she wrote this book before the show started, I'd like to think she pictures Wes as #33 too.
Jonah Hill is obvs too old to play Burt now, but that's always how I picture him-- maybe a little less rotund, but definitely with that cutely clueless determination and complete lack of self-awareness. As for Monotone, I just did a search for "long bangs" to find that picture, because I have no idea who could tackle the stoner-ish, slow-as-molasses Monica.
Moving on to Kristy...
Portia Doubleday as Kristy
Trust me, if I could go back and cast a young Dolly Parton, I WOULD. But since I can't, Portia will do.
As for Macy, let's be honest. It's Mandy Moore, all the way. (Pro-secret: I actually picture her as every Sarah Dessen heroine.) BUT since I guess she's a tad old at this point, I'll go with... hmm... ok, I'll pick... how about...
SIGH. I just literally spent half an hour trying to find the perfect person to play Macy, and NO ONE COMPARES TO MANDY. So CUSS IT. Mandy is Macy, END OF DISCUSSION.
Mandy Moore as Macy
Relationship Status: Eternal Love
This review is already longer than most marriage ceremonies, so I think I've made it pretty clear that this book and I are TOGETHER 4-EVER. I cherish every page, I adore every word, and I promise to have and to hold this book for as long as we both shall live-- AND THEN SOME. Every summer, I make a point to re-read it, because I never want to be too far from these characters and the magical summer when their lives came together. And whenever I open it, I feel a wave of comfort and a tantalizing spark of swoon spread over me, because even after all of these years, this book and I are still very, very much in love.*
*Note that I used "very" instead of the usual "v." THAT'S HOW MUCH I MEAN IT.
The Truth About Forever is the FYA Book Club selection for April 2016!