The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Macy’s father is dead. He died a year and a half ago, and Macy cannot get out of her head the fact that she should have gone running with him that fateful day…but didn’t, just because she wanted to sleep in. Oh, she roused herself a few minutes later and set off to catch up with him, but got there just as a Good Samaritan passerby was giving her father CPR. An ambulance came, but her father died en route to the hospital…and Macy dreams of running despite not having set foot on a track or trail to run since that day.

Her mother’s thrown herself into work. Her guy friend is standoffish. Macy herself is doing the best she can to conform to her mother’s, her sister’s, her not-quite-boyfriend’s desires for her. She comes home every afternoon to do schoolwork and study for the SATs and has promised to take over not-quite-boyfriend’s part-time job at the library when he leaves that summer for Brain Camp.

Think it’ll last? Nope, me neither.

Macy’s mother has withdrawn into her own struggle to finish construction on the development she and her husband began before his death, and then (pre)sell the units. Macy’s sister cannot understand why neither her mother or sister have gone back to the summer cabin so beloved of the father/husband. Macy finds the information desk job at the library is a misery, largely because of the two Mean Girls1 working the desk with her; they regard her as not only a newbie but an interloper and never let her answer questions more complicated than “Where’s the bathroom?”, a talent which Macy seems fated to use at every turn. Jason breaks up with her by email while away at Brain Camp because she slips and uses the phrase “I love you.”

Macy’s sister ups and begins to renovate the beloved summer cottage, a typically awkward beach house–dark in the living spaces, light in the sleeping spaces with a foundation that’s sagging off into the lake and a roof that’s on the verge of flying off in the next winter storm. Macy herself “sneaks” off and takes a second job with the caterer whom her mother hired for one of her events, and finds it far more stimulating, socially and careerwise, than the library.

“Wish”, the catering company, was started by the current owner’s older sister, who’s recently died of cancer. Delia took over the business as a way to honor her sister’s dream, and is struggling, making do with her nephews and the neighbor girls for staff. Macy proves a decent waitress and cook, but more importantly for the plot, begins falling in love with one of the nephews, Wes. They’re four weeks into an ongoing game of Truth, and have survived the near-catastrophic disasters that are the norm for most catering companies without stressing their burgeoning friendship to the breaking point. They’re well on their way to falling in love when Macy finds out Wes has a girlfriend, who’s in detox, and Jason and Macy’s mother find out that Macy is hanging around with…er…persons whom they consider inappropriate. Macy is grounded. Wes is heartbroken.

It isn’t until Wish caters the Grand Opening of Macy’s mother’s subdivision that both sides get a chance to get to know one another and realize that, while they would not choose this for themselves, the choices that the others have made for themselves are the best decisions for the individuals in questions. And the cottage ends up nicely renovated.

I guessed most of the plot points at least a chapter ahead of time, but then I’m considerably older than the intended age range. For an adult with some decades of books under their belts, it’s a trite reprise of teen emo trauma books, but for a teenager who hasn’t yet experienced quarrels of this magnitude, much less death of a loved one, it’s a brilliant way to prepare for things which will inevitably come. Really.

Just avoid it if you can’t stand teen emo chicklit.

1library staff members are NOT like this as a rule


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