Study Guide

The Truth About Forever Rules and Order

By Sarah Dessen

Rules and Order

It took a lot of work to be perfect. (1.8)

How exactly does acting "perfect" keep Macy's mind off her pain? Does it really help them deal?

Just printing my own name on the top of a page a few days previously, I'd second-guessed the letters and their order, not even sure of that anymore. (1.14)

Even things that Macy's known since childhood—like how to spell her own name—seem uncertain now. What is it about death that makes Macy crave order so much?

All I'd wanted for so long was for someone to explain everything that had happened to me in this same way. To label it neatly on a page: this leads to this leads to this. (1.25)

The death of a parent sure does shake the foundations of your world—especially when it's sudden and unexpected. Would explaining it all really help Macy, though? She knows what happened, so why does she still crave more of an explanation?

As much as I'd been worried about her as she went on this tear, I was even more concerned about what would happen when she was all done, and the only mess left was us. (1.60)

Deborah's immediate response to her husband's death is to start a frenzied pace of work—which, by the way, still hasn't let up. When would you say she transitions from a focus on work to a focus on the mess that is Macy?

I was so used to controlling the unexpected at all costs that I'd felt my stress level rising and falling, reacting constantly. (4.119)

It looks like Macy is causing herself more stress by doing the very thing that she thinks will keep order and calm in her life. Sometimes being in control is way less calming than just letting the chaos sink in. (Key word: sometimes.)

But my mother would never have understood why, in some small way, the mayhem of Delia's business would appeal to me. (5.18)

When you're trying to control something, you have to focus on it all the time, right? We all know that feeling. So it would probably be a huge relief to let your mind become occupied with something else for a change—maybe something that you can't really control. We're guessing this is why Macy is so into Delia's business.

"I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? […] It's how life is." (5.92)

So is Delia saying that chaos is part of the order of the universe? Aren't they opposites? How can one be part of the other? Seriously, we're asking.

It was like Cinderella in reverse: if I was a princess for my daylight hours, at night I let myself and my composure go, just until the stroke of midnight, when I turned back to princess again, just in time. (6.69)

Every little girl dreams of being a princess, right? Well, Macy's got that reality, but it doesn't seem all that appealing. For her, being a princess means having to be perfect and controlled all the time. You never see a Disney princess let people down, now do you?

"It's not about being perfect, really. It's about… I don't know. Being in control." (10.101)

And there you have it, folks. From the horse's mouth. Could Macy have found another way to try to be in control of her life, or is acting perfect the only way? What other options are there?

"Plus, it's so different from anything at my house, where everything is just so organized and new. I like the chaos in it." (11.100)

Between the two of them, Macy and her mom have done a good job of holding on to the past. But now Macy's ready to let go. Let the chaos ensue.

We do have one question though: What if this catering job had come a year or so earlier? Would Macy have been ready for it then, or would she have reacted differently?