Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen
From the publisher:
"A long, hot summer...

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 question her sheltered life. 

Is it really always better to be safe than sorry?

This is the first Sarah Dessen book I have read, and I'm kind of torn about it. On one hand, I loved the characters and the storyline. I was completely drawn in to the heartache and attraction the 2 main characters shared. I hurt for Macy and her mother and their dysfunctional relationship and loss of self. The secondary characters were beautifully drawn and were every bit as important to the story as the main ones. I loved every member of the Wish team and want to go hang out with them. There is a deepness about this book, and it isn't your ordinary YA contemporary. 

On the other hand, I was not happy about the cussing and partying and sneaking out that was portrayed. Don't tell me that is "normal" teenage behavior, because it doesn't have to be. However, if that is what they are reading in books and seeing in movies and on TV, then it convinces teenagers that that is how they are supposed to act. The whole moral of this book is saying that when Macy was trying to be perfect she wasn't healing and moving on, but when she was sneaking out and drinking then she was really becoming a better person. I was a little uncomfortable with that, even though it wasn't that stark in it's telling. 

My students constantly ask for more of Sarah Dessen, but I'm not convinced she is a good fit for middle school. If my students want YA contemporary, I'll steer them towards Kasie West, who tells the same type of stories without all of the bad language and behavior. 

Areas of concern:
*Quite a lot of profanity, vulgarities and cussing. The *f* word rears it's ugly head twice and it is completely unnecessary.
*Quite a bit of teenage drinking.
*Sneaking out at night.

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 9-12 (I agree with this one.)
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+

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