N’yallright, given how recently I hopped on the John Green bus and how I’m still sort of hanging out by the door, I feel kind of douchey saying this: Sarah Dessen is no John Green. But she is 9/10ths of John Green,* and it is sufficiently awesome, and that is as near as I can come to accurate.
So, backing up to the point where I talk about the plot for a minute, The Truth About Forever is the story of a girl coming to grips with the death of her dad and also meeting a dude. And they hook up. I am not here to disillusion you, there will be no indie-film-style-ambiguous-endings here. I say this with the least amount of Disapproval possible, but Dessen totally picks her characters and plotlines from some file of authorial clip art.
Because ok. Let us get out our checklists. Macy’s dad dies (tick), so Macy and her mom become OCD about life in an Effort To Control (tick). Macy is dating this totally nice guy with no real emotions but it’s sort of not his fault so that we recognize that he’s not the guy for her but we don’t really hate him (tick), but then he takes his safe self away for the summer and Macy accidentally Takes a Risk (tick) and makes some new friends who are a bit wildandcrazy but have good hearts (tick). There is a make-over scene (tick). One of the new friends is this fantastic-looking dude who doesn’t realize how fantastic-looking he is which makes him even hotter (tick), PLUS he’s an artist (tick) PLUS he has a shady past (TICK!). They have an emotional connection but do not date due to extenuating circumstances (tick). Then they almost date (tick), then something goes awry (tick), Macy’s mom continues to express her grief by not letting Macy be a teenager (tick), the older sister who I forgot until now gives some heartfelt advice (tick), Macy and the hot artist hook up and it is sweet (tick).
And I have zero qualms about spoilering that for you, because it isn’t the story, but the MANNER IN WHICH IT IS TOLD that will win you. Because it is sweet, AND winsome, AND clever. There’s this one girl in the pack of new, wacky friends who spends the whole book standing laconically to one side or blowing her bangs out of her face and who literally only says three things ever, and I wanted to take her home and keep her. Macy, as a pretty teenaged heroine who underestimates her own prettiness, did not make me want to SMACK her even when she was being thick, which is Hard To Do. All those things that sound so twee in the above paragraph, they do not twee you in the face while you are reading. It’s only later (when you are trying to describe to someone what the book is about) that you realize you are summarizing every teen movie ever made ever..
I’m saying a lot of words to try and squeeze this out. I will read more Dessen and I will anticipate it with delight. Chalk another triumph for the Wonderful Dare Challenge, and someone get TY a donut.
*By which I mean, the style is similar but the dialogue is 9/10ths as zingy and the jokes are 9/10ths as funny and the heart-breakingness is 9/10ths as heart-breaking. But Dessen has waffles and as far as I can tell, John Green has no waffles.