{Book Review} The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

I’ve seen people constantly recommending Sarah Dessen books in my Goodreads feed for years now (most of the ladies in my book club have read at least one, I’m sure), and I always see her books in bookshops as well, but for some reason, I’ve never really been compelled to read any of them. I’d say perhaps I judged the books based on their cover, but I’ve read (more than) enough “trashy” books to know that isn’t the case. At any rate, I’ve always found some other book to read other than Sarah Dessen’s books. Until now.

It was pretty funny how it started, actually. We were challenged by our book moderator of the month at The Filipino Group, Maria, to read a YA book and post a review, and since this was one of the books I had on hand (I didn’t say I didn’t have copies, only that I never actually got around to reading them), I might as well read it, seeing as I didn’t have the time to look for anything else. And since I’m writing a review already, why not post here, as a comeback entry to the blog after *gasp* two years?!

Long story short, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I expected a tired romance plot with cliche characters that I’ve seen millions of times, but I’m happy to report that no, that’s not really the case. Beyond Macy’s development from a timid and mousy pushover to a strong and almost-fearless woman, I genuinely enjoyed her relationships with the other characters – her control freak mother, her daring sister Caroline, and especially the endearing Wish team: scatter-brained Delia, confident Kristy, “sa-woon”-worthy Wes, Bert who always looks at the dark side of life, and even half-robot Monica.

It wasn’t a mystery, the way the story ended. It’s something you can kind of expect from the beginning, but what I liked about this book was the process of how Macy started moving on. I liked seeing how she changed for the better, because even if at the start I was pretty frustrated with her life choices, I really couldn’t help wishing the best for her. When she finally got to do what she had to do, I practically swelled with pride, even though it was inevitable anyway, which just goes to show how great Sarah Dessen is with her characters. 

Beyond the sweet romance with Wes that I expected (which I got slow-burn style, just the way I liked it), I also got a story that dealt with loss, relationships, moving on, and the truth about forever with more depth and heart than I imagined. If the rest of Sarah Dessen’s books are like this, then I can clearly see why there would always be people reading and reviewing them in my feed. I’m already one of them, after publishing this review. Who knows, this might not even be the last.

In a nutshell…

Rating: 4/5
Paperback, 374 pages
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group, Inc.
Published: May 11, 2004
Language: English
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

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{Book Review} On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

<<Update: I am so so so sorry I haven’t clogged your dashboards for almost a month (probably something to be thankful for, but I’ll pretend otherwise)! I was busy with schoolwork, and I found a subject I really liked loved! General Psychology! I am now reading characters (and people) in a new light. This stuff is amazing, guys. Really! Aaand I’ll finally put up an In My Mailbox post later this week because of all the books and mail I have accumulated (some totally unexpected!) Yowzah!>>

I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is the leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Here’s a funny story I want to insert before I write the real review: when I first heard of Jellicoe Road, I immediately thought of that song from the musical Cats, “…because Jellicoes are and Jellicoes do, Jellicoes do and Jellicoes would…” I Googled the lyrics and looked for it in Youtube, feeling so cool that I remembered the song and everything, and then I realized it was JELLICLE, not Jellicoe. *facepalm* (By the way, if you’re reading this from my blog, I inserted the video of the song below, just in case you want to hear it too! Careful, it gets quite catchy.)

Totally unrelated (though hopefully funny) story aside, here’s the review! (You: Finally!)

Jellicoe Road by Australian author Melina Marchetta is set as a dual narrative, a technique which I have loved ever since I read Holes. It starts out sort of like a puddle of string, entangled in itself, with you hardly knowing what to do with them, but somehow, somewhere along the book these little string ends start finding each other and connecting and forming something beautiful and perfect that absolutely makes sense. It’s hard to understand my explanation, but really, it’s my subconscious channeling you to read it stat. As you journey with Taylor and Co., everything seems complicated but wait until you read the final pages. Ahh, so that’s why this happened. You may find the resolution a bit long, but it’s okay because it ties up all the loose ends which leave you in no doubt regarding the fates of the characters, while maintaining a little ambiguity as you wonder what happens to them beyond the book’s scope.

Feelings-wise, I think this book is so… passionate. Powerful. Intense. It comes across to me that way, not because of the vivid imagery or the intricate plot, but because of all the emotions the characters are feeling. I measure a book by how it evokes feelings in me, and this book takes home all the awards because I think it made me feel everything I could possibly feel at my age. I read this at the end of my college summer semester, where I felt like a prune, numb and empty from all the schoolwork and literally sleepless nights, but this book managed to make me feel good, which is not at all unwelcome (I’m like a grape now. Sorry for the food analogy, I just want to eat some grapes.) Wow, Marchetta.

Also, Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs both possess strong personalities, which definitely adds to the passion + tension + overall intensity of the story in a lot of ways. It makes for an interesting dynamic.

But here’s the thing: what really did me in was the prose. Marchetta’s writing contains a flowy, dreamlike quality that is part witty and part poignant, among other things. It’s an interesting combination that manifests itself several times in the text. Like this quote, for example:

And life goes on, which seems kind of strange and cruel when you’re watching someone die. But there’s a joy and an abundance of everything, like information and laughter and summer weather and so many stories.

There are several others, believe me, but I didn’t have the foresight to write them down because I was too busy reading everything that I finished the book in a day. It is THAT good. 

If it is not obvious yet, Jellicoe Road is something I DEFINITELY recommend you to read! The experience is nothing short of magical, as all dreams are, no matter bad or good. 🙂

In a nutshell…

Rating: 5/5
Paperback, 422 pages
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Harper Teen
Published: March 9, 2010 (first published August 28, 2006 by Penguin Australia)
Language: English
Genre: Young Adult

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