Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: Forever by Judy Blume

In Forever by Judy Blume, Katharine meets Michael, a cute boy with golden hair, at a New Years party. Though the two don't hit it off right away, Michael is persistent on getting Katharine to hang out with him, and she is happy to oblige. The two fall down the hole of teenage romance, and become obsessed with each other as teenaged lovers often do. Things seem perfect until their parents decide to send them to opposite places for the summer to test their love for seven weeks.

This book was controversial when it was first published in the early '70's, and there are still a lot of things in the book that could be seen that way. There is incredibly awkward teenaged sex, a character who is questioning their sexual identity, teen pregnancy, drug use, teen drinking (though I believe in that time the drinking age was 18, so we must remember that!), STD's, etc. It is a pretty groundbreaking book, especially since Katharine has a badass grandmother who works for Planned Parenthood and NOW, and she has parents who are open with her about sex and sexuality.

Despite it's controversial subject matter and historical value, there were some things that didn't jive with me in this one. I think Judy Blume wrote this book with a bit of an agenda to show how sex was changing for teens, and how progressive things were becoming, but there were times when it seemed she drifted out of Katharine's voice and into her own to make a subtly preachy statement. Such as, "It's true that we are more open than our parents but that just means we accept sex and talk about it. It doesn't mean we are all jumping into bed together."

I also couldn't connect for having any feelings with most of the characters. Katharine didn't seem to have any other interests besides Michael. It is said that she likes tennis, but it came across as an after thought of "oh, she needs to like something! Oh! I know! Tennis!" As for Michael, he had two interests  and they were skiing, and trying to get Katharine to have sex with him. I got very annoyed with Michael. I understand that teenage boys only have sex on the brain, but DAMN. I couldn't understand why Katharine was so in love with him when all we saw of him was him trying to scheme his way (along with his penis named 'Ralph') into her pants. Then there is Katharine's sister Jamie, who is a sweet thirteen year old girl, but was a genius at way too many things. Things Jamie was brilliant and prodigal at included: embroidery, art, rug hooking, cooking, cake decorating, piano, and more! The characters with the most interesting story lines were not main characters by any means, but mentioned every couple of pages as a reminder that Katharine knew people besides Michael.

Also, this book was in the Teen section of my library, and beside the content of the book, it read like it was for a much younger audience. The font in the book is bigger, and Katharine's first person narrative makes her seem the same age as her thirteen year old sister. A lot of other reviews that I've read had a problem with the the book, but I did not see them as a big distraction. It got me more into the way that the characters in this book speak.

I'm on the fence with the rating of this book. It has a great historical value, and showed the way sex was changing, and also showed it in a strikingly realistic way, but I could not get into any of the characters and didn't feel like I was reading a book for teenagers.

Rating: 3 / 5

Have you read this book? Thoughts?

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