Study Guide

The Truth About Forever Wisdom and Knowledge

By Sarah Dessen

Wisdom and Knowledge

"I don't understand it. Actually."


"Look," he said, picking up his pen again. "It's not as complicated as you think." […] He started flipping pages in his book, still talking, and pointed out a passage to me. Then he read it aloud, and as his finger moved across the words it was like he changed them, magic, and suddenly they made sense.

And I felt comfort. Finally. 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. I knew, deep down, it was more complicated than that, but watching Jason, I was hopeful. (1.21, 24-25)

The kind of knowledge that Jason has about school-related book stuff is what Macy craves to help her figure out the rest of her life. But as she notes, that's just not how life word.

Bethany and Amanda seemed to be pooling their considerable IQs in a single-minded effort to completely demoralize me. (3.38)

Smarts without a conscience can be dangerous, don't you think? At least Jason has some kindness in him.

[T]o her trained ear, I'd mispronounced Albert Camus' name while directing a sullen summer school student to the French literature section. (3.39)

Once again, knowledge is used as a weapon by the library gals. Just because they can pronounce some French author's name, they think they're better than Macy.

Clearly, this had not been the moment to show off my grammar prowess. (4.110)

Macy tossed out some ellipses knowledge (you know, those three dots: …) and it stirred up a little conflict at the wedding. Oops. Moral of the story? Knowing things doesn't always help. Sometimes, feeling, empathizing, or understanding is more important.

But that was the problem with having the answers. It was only after you gave them that you realized they sometimes weren't what people wanted to hear. (4.115)

Sometimes, knowledge can actually hurt other people. Could this be why Caroline waited so long to start helping Macy and her mom move on? Did Wes give Macy any answers to her problems, or did he just listen?

Whatever way it had gone, clearly this break wasn't just my secret anymore. Now, it was Information, and as they were with everything else, Bethany and Amanda were suddenly experts. (5.23)

Bethany and Amanda sure know how to jump on the gossip train—and fast. These girls have plenty of knowledge, but they definitely aren't using it appropriately. But what would a YA novel be without a couple of mean girls?

"It's the universe's way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It's how life is." (5.92)

Oh, Delia. How does she know so much? And would you say she applies her nuggets of wisdom to the way she lives her own life?

"We both know life is short, Macy." (7.202)

Check out Kristy, young girl extraordinaire, doling out the wisdom. What about Kristy's life has allowed her to get so stinkin' deep?

"You said the other day life was long," I shot back. Which is it?"

"It's both," she said, shrugging. "It all depends on how you choose to live it. It's like forever, always changing."

"Nothing can be two opposite things at once," I said. "It's impossible."

"No," she replied, squeezing my hand, "what's impossible is that we actually think it could be anything other than that." (7.203-206)

In Shmoop's humble opinion, logic doesn't help when the heart is concerned.