Study Guide

The Truth About Forever Family

By Sarah Dessen

Family

I should have been with him; she should have left him alone. Should, coulda, woulda. It's so easy in the past tense.

But here in the present, my mother and I had no choice but to move ahead. (2.21)

But they did have a choice, right? Couldn't they have mourned like everyone else? Like Caroline? Or was moving ahead their way of mourning? And what is it about Caroline that makes her different from the rest of the Queen gang in her coping mechanisms?

It was the best thing we had in common, the one part of him that was all mine. (3.8)

Macy's talking about running here. She and her dad had a major bond through their passion for running—and that's probably why it's so hard for her to return to it. Too many memories can be a tough thing to face.

I knew my mother thought of me as the good daughter, the one she could depend on to be as driven and focused as she was. (5.13)

Macy and her mom have plenty of issues—that's no secret. But this mother-daughter duo has a bond that we can't write off. Other than being driven and focused, what do Macy and Deborah have in common?

This reaching out to my mom was another thing I'd been working up to, never quite getting the nerve, but she made it look simple. (6.113)

The problem is that Deborah reacts differently when Caroline reaches out than she does when Macy reaches out. Why do you think that is? hey don't have a better relationship, do they? They fought for years, after all. Could it be because they're more honest with each other?

"When my dad died, it was like everything felt really shaky, you know?" (10.103)

Things got rough when Macy's dad died, so she and her mom banded together to make a solid ground to stand on. But now it's taking over—it's too solid. What would the alternative be, though? An earthquake?

Of course she'd think I could tell her anything: she was my mother. In truth, though, I couldn't. (11.206)

Mother-daughter relationships are tough. On the one hand, if you have a good relationship, you're probably closer to your mom than anyone else in the world. On the other hand, there are certain things you feel like she just might not understand.

"But just talking about anything emotional is hard for her. For us. It's like she prefers we just not do that anymore." (12.234)

Deborah is trying to keep it together for her own sake and for Macy's. But why does she think this is best for her daughter to keep everything under wraps?

Everyone else could get through to my mother: all they had to do was dial a number and wait for her to pick up. If only, I thought, it was that easy for me. (14.27)

Sometimes strangers get more kindness from us than family members, don't they? It's easy to take family for granted, but Macy knows that they won't always be around.

"And this job would look good on my transcript."

[…]

"And," I finished, "it fits right in with what she wants me to be."

"Which is?"

I ran the fabric of my shirt between my thumb and forefinger, remembering our conversation that morning, as well as the one the night before. "Perfect," I said.

[…]

"And mothers, of all people, are the least likely to care about such things." (15.50-56)

Is Delia right? Or does Deborah really want Macy to be perfect? Which of Deborah's actions make you answer the way you do?

"I'm serious." She stretched her feet out in front of her, smoothing her hands over her belly. "I know something about this, okay? All I care about for Lucy, and Wes and Bert, is that they be happy. Healthy. And good people, you know? I'm not perfect, not by a long shot. So why would I expect them to be?" "My mom's not like that." (15.58-59)

Macy's mom definitely isn't not as openly loving as Delia, but she does love Macy in her own way. Do you think Macy's being too hard on her mom, or is she reacting in the way any daughter would in this situation?