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I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.

SPOILER ALERT!

Forever

Forever - Judy Blume

Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year's Eve party. They're attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they've decided their love is forever, they make love.

It's the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine's parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart...

"Forever" is written for an older age group than Judy Blume's other novels for children. It caused a storm of controversy when it was first published because of its explicit sexual content.

It was a book ahead of its time - and remains, after thirty years in print, a teenage best-seller. America's No. 1 children's author has written some of the best books of our time about real-life issues - family stress and pressures, what happens when your parents divorce, the problems of growing up and sexual awakening, bereavement - with insight, sensitivity and honesty.

The response of readers all around the world continues to make her one of the best-loved writers ever published. (source)

 

I've never been a big Judy Blume fan. I think I should make that clear from the beginning. While I appreciate that Blume was one of the first authors to really be blunt with young readers about topics that parents might not be totally comfortable discussing, I personally find her style to be overly didactic. I read this book because it was assigned as part of my reading list for my Resources for Young Adults course. As with Blume's other works, while I can appreciate the revolutionary nature of the book, I'm still not crazy about it. 

 

Katherine and Michael have a very stereotypical first love. They're both fairly inexperienced, but they're absolutely smitten with each other from the beginning. It doesn't take long before they're talking about a future and experimenting with sex. But, like many first loves, this one doesn't, in fact, last forever - and it doesn't take Katherine long to move on from it, either, if the ending is any indication. 

 

Blume's purpose in writing Forever is clear: she wants to 1) teach girls about how to practice safe sex and 2) show girls that it's normal for a first love NOT to be the last. As far as motivations for writing a young adult novel goes, this is a pretty good one. But it's a bit too "in your face" for my taste. There's absolutely no subtlety to it. I think that if I were to read this as a 16 year old, I'd feel like it's very preachy and I don't think I'd appreciate that. 

 

I was also kind of put off for a while by Katherine's parents. They are very, very open with their daughters and aren't really traditional at all. From the beginning, it appears as though Katherine doesn't have any rules. While some teens might grow up in a home like this, I think it's safe to say that most do not. But as the story progresses, Blume reveals that, while Katherine's parents are more relaxed than most are, they do have some limits. They're very hesitant to allow Katherine to take a weekend trip with Michael and they absolutely refuse to let her change her college plans solely so she can go to the same school as him. I now think that Blume wanted to set Katherine's parents up as the ideal parents - open, but still authoritative to some degree. While this is a good model, I still think that it's one that doesn't apply to most families. I think that Blume's work would be more effective if she'd chosen to give Katherine a family with more traditional rules, and shown how Katherine might have behaved if she'd had parents who, say, made her obey a curfew. 

 

As with many of the other books I've read so far for this class, I understand why this work is an important part of the YA literature canon. I am glad I read it, but again - it wasn't for me. I'd be curious to see how an actual teenage girl would react to this book: would she like, or would she be irritated by it, like I was? Did any of you read this as teens? If you did, what did you think?