I come with a review of The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.
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.
Review: I don't read much contemporary fiction. This is mainly because I feel sort of alienated from the protagonists, seeing as much teenage contemporary fiction revolves around secondary/middle/high school*. And I'm homeschooled. Apart from the first few years of primary school, I have absolutely no knowledge of what it is to be in school. Anyway, I still don't read much contemporary fiction. Maybe this is because I'd rather read about the end of the world or the English civil war.
Enough of my rambling. Despite that, I am a HUGE fan of Sarah Dessen. The formal education is minimal, the protagonists are easy to relate to, the boys are swoon worthy while still having awesome personalities, and there's lots to be learnt from the story.
Now then. Before I go on to praise The Truth about Forever, this is the closest I will ever come to criticising a Sarah Dessen novel: if you took all the pages out, threw them up in the air, and put them back in any book, you wouldn't really notice. There. That is the only bad thing you will hear in this review. From here my review is 100% praise, so if you're one of those people who likes reading really bad reviews you can just leave now.
Anyway. I don't know a single Sarah Dessen fan who actually complains about the similarity between her books. It's true, when you've read one, you've sort of read them all, but I DON'T CARE! I don't think that any of her other fans do either. She is the master of such fiction: the sort you read on perfectly sunny day or at the beach, with an ice cream while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Though it would admittedly be cool if she played around with her plotlines and characters a bit more, what she writes she writes well and there's no reason to complain.
One of the things I love most about Sarah Dessen books is the characters. They're incredibly easy to relate to, because unlike too many YA authors, Dessen writes like a teenager. When you're reading, you forget that this is a New York Times bestselling author's sixth novel. You feel guilty with her the morning of her father's death, bewildered when she first encounters the Wish Catering crew, and so on. You, the reader, are Macy. You're worried about your mother, you miss your father, you're worried about what's going to become of you and Wes when Jason returns.
Speaking of Jason. He was the one character in the book I truly loathed. But, well, I think the reader is supposed to loathe him. But what did Macy see in him? Perfection, obviously, but, well, why?! If you've been together for a year and a half and haven't told him you loved him, I think you should know something was up.
This is probably the deepest of the Dessens I've read. There are so many lessons from Sarah Dessen books to be learned about life, love, death, friendship and everything in between. It's full of quotes like, "There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment." and "...Some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is." It's full of wisdom and wiseness to get experience from, while enjoying a great story along the way. The plot is, I suppose, simplistic, and with any other author it wouldn't be 392 pages, but Sarah Dessen writes about everything in such depth, making the boy+girl=life-changing summer seem much more complex.
Summary: The Truth About Forever is as flawless as Macy strives to be. It's best read on a sunny weekend when you have nothing else to do and can just spend hours and hours devoted to it, and throw sleeping and eating to the wind. Rating: 5/5.
*With middle school and high school, shouldn't elementary school be called low school?