I should have known this book would be trouble. It's not that anything is wrong with Dessen as a writer. It's not that the book is poorly written in any way. When I realized the love interest shared the name of an ex of mine, and Macy's boyfriend at the start of the book shared my current boyfriend's name, I should have run while I could.
It made reading parts of this really awkward.
There were some really good things about The Truth About Forever, but if I'm being completely truthful in this review, this was a book where I was relieved to be finished reading. Yet again: your mileage will likely vary and I intend to try one of the other two Sarah Dessen novels sitting on my shelves eventually. But for now, lets get to it. You didn't come here to listen to me ramble about my love life. ;)
The Plot: (summary from GoodReads)
Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she'll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.
The first problem with this book, for me, was that it felt like it really dragged. I am use to YA being very quick paced and I noticed, much as I did in Kelly Creagh's Nevermore, that Dessen uses a lot more description and exposition then some of the other authors that I have read. I really had to fight to stick with the book and reach the end. When something was happening, the story was good. But I often felt like it was getting bogged down and this made it hard for me to stay focused.
Because the author wanted us to see Macy's progression of a character, she chose to spread the events over a period of time. But because of her writing style, a lack of attention, or who knows what else, by the time I got to the end of the book and Macy was telling Wes she needed to answer the question "he asked her in the truck", I have to admit I didn't even remember what that question actually was.
One thing I will give Dessen credit for is having smart kids be the antagonists -- or at least the unsympathetic characters -- of the story. In fact, she did a very good job of showing a variety of ways that being in control can actually be a bad thing and made a solid case for freedom of thought and expression, and the importance and need of being open to things "just happening". Her portrayals of grief, especially those of Macy and her mother, were also handled well.
I just couldn't get into Wes. I don't know what it was that he was lacking in comparison to some of the love interests in other books I've been reviewing, but he just didn't click with me. Which was really too bad, because I really wanted him to.
Jason totally creeped me out. He was like a robot. As someone who was a "smart" kid, I was slightly offended, although I did understand the point that Dessen was trying to make here. Still, I feel that he was more of a plot device then a person and that was really too bad.
I enjoyed watching Macy and Wes play Truth. I enjoyed reading about them working together at Wish. I thought their ability to talk about grief was good for both of them. And I want one of those maple scented pencils now. But really... I just didn't see the spark here. I didn't see the chemistry between these two at all. I never felt any real sense of "Oh my God, get together already!" the way that I normally do when I am rooting for characters to become a couple. Which left their romance flat and me cold. Sorry.
I almost put this book down. Several times. This took me long enough that I could probably have read two or three other books if I had set this aside and moved on. But a lot of people had recommended this to me and I wanted to finish it. It's not that I hated it. It's moreso that I just couldn't connect with it. As I said above, I will give Sarah Dessen another shot since I have This Lullaby and Just Listen on my shelf still. But I can't give a book a great, or even good, rating if that is not how I feel about it.
I'm sure there will be a lot of people who are going to disagree with this review. That's totally fine. I'm not necessarily saying that this is a bad book. I'm only saying it wasn't a good book for me.