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Forever . . . (1975)
door Judy Blume
Best Young Adult (66)
Books Read in 2017 (3,344)
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My mom wouldn't let me read this when I was a kid, but it was on Rolling Stone's recent list of the 40 Best YA books (a much hipper list than what usually gets published) so I read it. It's a quick read, and I understand why my mom didn't let me read it when I was in high school. That said, I kind of wish she would've let me. Not because of the graphic sex (and it IS pretty graphic), but because of the emotional element of relationships at a young age. The main character is so wrapped up in this one boy (as was I) and is fairly short-sighted with what "forever" should mean. Of course I'm speaking now from a much different vantage point, but I like to think that it may have impacted my approach to relationships.
As for the writing, it's okay. I wasn't wild about all the ellipses, but maybe that was the writing style in the 1970s?
I got to about page 50. A little outdated, but perhaps it is because I'm 20 years beyond the intended audience.
Follows the story of Kath, a teenager who is negotiating her first serious relationship, sex, and the issues all of that creates. It feels a bit dated and Kath as the narrator annoyed me, but for all that it felt pretty authentic, certainly for its time and probably still, at least in part. And Bloom does a great job setting out the options for safe sex and how to go about them, and both showing that there are consequences for having unsafe sex (unwanted pregnancy in the case of one of Kath's friends) but also that having safe sex as a teenager isn't actually the end of the world and that abstinence isn't the only viable option. So overall, it's a bit clunky and outdated in parts, but it's clearly a giant among early YA novels on the subject and it definitely paved the way for the genre.
I can't remember when I first read Forever, and am actually not 100% sure that I read it when I was younger at all, even though that seems very strange for a child of the '70s and '80s who definitely gobbled up Judy Blume's books for slightly younger readers. Whether I did or not, it seemed positively revolutionary to me reading it as an adult in 2015, and I have even more respect for Judy Blume now than I already did. I read an interview with her earlier this year where she described herself as more of a storyteller than a wordsmith (or something to that effect), and that is true. No one will be wowed by the language or descriptions in Forever, but it is a good story laced with important messages about sex. Katherine is a young woman (a senior in high school, who turns 18 in the book) whose parents (and grandparents!) respect her ability to make responsible decisions, who acknowledge and affirm her sexual coming of age, speak frankly with her about it, and make sure that she has the information and skills she needs to acquire and use birth control when she decides she is ready to be fully intimate with her boyfriend. She even goes to Planned Parenthood in the book, and describes a place where young women are treated with respect and a lack of judgment. She isn't tortured about her decision to start having sex (which Blume almost always refers to as "making love") in the context of a committed relationship with a loving young man, enjoys it, and knows herself well enough to trust her own instincts when making a difficult decision at the end of the book. Every teenager who is unfortunate enough to live in a part of the country that labors under the delusional assumptions of abstinence-only sex education should be drop shipped a copy immediately! Forever wouldn't work if Judy Blume was just standing on her sex positive soapbox without a convincing and engaging plot and characters to illustrate the message, though, and fortunately, she isn't. Judy Blume is a storyteller, and a very good one, and I'm grateful that she has put that skill to such good use helping teens to negotiate adolescence for the past several decades. Forever was always a controversial book, but it is truly disheartening to read it forty years after its 1975 publication and reflect that the United States has, in many respects, taken steps backward when it comes to the topics it treats. Despite some dated '70s language and references, I hope that teens who pick up this book today can benefit from Blume's perspective.
Katherine and Michael's romance progresses rapidly from kissing to sexual intercourse after Katherine gets the Pill-- but will their love last forever?
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Two high school seniors believe their love to be so strong that it will last forever.
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Dewey Decimale Classificatie (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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This whole book was about a relationship. The whole book. There was barely any subplots, just talk about Kath and Michael and Michael and Kath. I love my romances and I love my YA romances especially, but there needs to be more than what was here.
I did appreciate that Blume confronted the sex topic, especially for the time, but it took over a lot of the book despite barely being a conflict. Michael was a good guy and didn't pressure Kath, so I don't see why it was such a big issue.
The most interesting side note was Artie, whose mental health was questionable and who had an intriguing relationship with Kath's best friend, Erica. Also, Sybil was an interesting character, getting into top universities yet getting pregnant. I thought these two had a lot more depth to them than Kath and Michael, honestly.
Also, maybe this is a stylistic thing of the time period, but the amount of ellipses used in this book drove me up the wall. They start in the title and they never end. Additionally, Ralph was just weird.
At the end, it felt like Kath's parents won and got their 'I told you so' moment, and the whole book was just proving their point. I felt like, as a young adult, that I was being a little bit patronized.
Maybe I'll give another Blume book a shot since I had heard such great things, but this wasn't my style. ( )