Welcome to another Thoughts On book review. You’ll see these pop up on my blog whenever I’ve found a book I just can’t put down.
Macy is perfect.
She parts her hair exactly down the middle. She studies hard and gets good grades. She manages a successful relationship with her scholarly boyfriend, Jason. And when people ask her how she’s doing, she smiles and says she’s fine.
When on the inside, Macy is suffocating.
In the aftermath of seeing her father die during a morning jog, Macy shut her emotions down and buried them inside herself. Her inconsolable sister did the crying, her mother dove straight into work, and Macy found Jason, the perfect, un-clingy boyfriend who encouraged her to follow his example. For the past year, it was easy. She coasted along beside him, studying and avoiding intimacy, which was fine with the prim and proper Jason. He gave her stability in a turbulent time. He gave her something to latch onto. He gave her a guidebook to perfection.
But when Jason puts their relationship on hold via email, Macy realizes she hasn’t been doing a good enough job at pretending to be perfect. Of course she hasn’t convinced Jason. All he sees in her now is a lump of dead weight dragging him down. So, in order to take her mind off of Jason’s rejection and her own feeling of inadequacy, Macy takes a summer job with a catering company.
And everything changes.
The members of Wish Catering are always in the middle of a crisis. From botched gigs to forgotten hams, one thing or another is always going awry, forcing a constant disruption in the monotony of Macy’s seemingly perfect life. But before long, Macy finds herself taking pleasure in the unexpected. The hectic, heat-of-the-moment complications force her to think on her feet and react to the situation at hand. She doesn’t have to worry about planning for a stable future. She doesn’t have to concern herself with what’s going on inside of her heart. She just has to serve appetizers. That’s it.
By the end of each evening, somehow the inevitable combustion is skirted and Macy and her coworkers survive to serve another day. As they pack up their supplies after each near-disaster, Macy begins to realize that even despite its hiccups, the world keeps turning, no matter what.
Perhaps she wasn’t perfect enough for Jason, but Macy finds herself starting to enjoy the experience of imperfection.
With every new catering gig, the world rejects Macy’s expectations, showing her a life that refuses to adhere to her perfect plans. In the end, she finally embraces her flaws by tossing out her façade and exposing her fragile self to the world. By denying Jason when he comes crawling back to her and by forcing her mother to come to terms with her father’s death, Macy unlocks doors she’d hidden behind ever since that fateful morning.
We assume perfection is an ideal state, a thing worth striving for, but sometimes we forget just how suffocating it can be. Sure, at times it can give us something to aspire to or an end result to work towards, but when we live our lives in a constant encasement of security and emotional equilibrium, can we lose who we are to a chasm of inauthenticity?
Is perfection bad? Is chaos good? I think, like all things in life, both are viewed best in shades of gray. Sometimes perfection can box us in, suffocating our spirit beneath a stagnant wall of insolation. On the other hand, chaos can cause wreckage that is irreparable. Perhaps the best route combines a mixture of the two. With perpetual flow we can perfect, dismantle, and rebuild ourselves as we grow and change. Like Macy, we can make the choice to throw off perfection and salvage strength from the inner source of our own vulnerability.
Because, really, the truth about forever is that it’s only here until it’s gone. And it’s our job to fill it up while we still have the chance.
So what will you do with your forever?