The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

I don’t read many Young Adult novels in general and those that I do read are fantasy more often than not. I am so glad I read this one, though. It is very “teenagey,” but I adored Macy, the main character and loved seeing how she grew throughout the book.

The story takes place during the summer Macy is seventeen. She is still coping with her father’s death, keeping her grief under wraps by trying to be perfect, earn good grades, participate in the “right” activities. She even has the “perfect” boyfriend who is smart, unemotional, focussed on his goals.

Macy thinks her summer is planned out for her. While her boyfriend is away at camp, she’ll take over his job at the library, she’ll help her mom with the opening of the townhouse section of her development, and of course there’s always studying for the SATs. Both Macy and her mom are so concerned that they be “fine” they can’t share anything that they’re feeling. Then Macy meets Delia and the Wish Catering crew and her summer takes a turn for the better, chaotic, messy and honest. They are a quirky group of people, but loveable and honest.

I liked that this was about teenagers who felt real, who weren’t obsessed with sex or on drugs or had abusive parents. They were real teenagers dealing with loss and love and relationships.

Macy grows so much as a person during the summer and each of the other characters and her relationship with them helps her transformation. The Wish crew have all experienced their own tragedies and losses, but they deal with them, they don’t lock their feelings away. And they encourage Macy to really live, enjoy life. they help here see what a wonderful person she is, faults and all.

“What you need.” Kristy said, “what you deserve, is a guy who adores you for what you are. Who doesn’t see you as a project, but a prize. You know?”

“I’m no prize,” I said, shaking my head.

“Yes,” she said, and she sounded so sure it startled me: like she could be so positive while hardly know me at all. “You are. What sucks is how you can’t even see it.” (pg. 135)

There is a love story for Macy, of course. Wes, who works for Wish, is a gorgeous, tattoed, talented artist, definitely not the “perfect” guy, but they become good friends and the focus is on their friendship growing into a romance. It’s not love at first sight, so to speak, which is more realistic to me, they have a chance of lasting.

Macy learns a lot, but more than anything, I think she learns the importance of living and feeling in the present.

Forever was so many different things. 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. But there was only one truth about forever that really mattered, and that was this: it was happening. (pg. 374)

First published in 2004
374 pages

Challenges: 100+, A-Z

I borrowed my copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


  • Great review and summation of what worked well in this story. I read this book and liked it (quite a lot), though I’m not usually a contemporary YA-lover. I think Dessen captured the essence of some important things in this novel: young friendships, independence, expectation and responsibility…

    I also liked the sister-sister relationship dynamic – it was realistic and reminded me of conversations I’ve had with my mom and sister now that we’re all of us adults. Have you read any other books by Dessen? I didn’t realize it at first, but all of her books are set in the same town/area.

  • I’m always happy to read a YA book where sex and drugs don’t rule. I get that they’re often a part of YA life, but they’re NOT YA life…it’s much deeper than that.

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