Forever by Judy Blume
A scandal for parents and a staple for teen girls in the 70's
So my mother was a teenager in the 80’s. If I could, I’d show you her senior photo complete with puffy Aquanet bangs and blue eyeshadow to prove it. I remember hearing her talk about Judy Blume; I picked up on the hint of a scandal and got the sense that her books were considered a rite of passage for girls at the time. This piqued my interest initially but when I turned 11 and found a box full of vintage mass market paperbacks in the back of my mom’s closet, it was V.C. Andrews who had me in a chokehold so Blume was pushed to the side.
I heard her name again in the early 2000’s when the Mary Kate and Ashley’s sensation (come at me) Holiday in the Sun found its way into my VCR. It’s strange that I didn’t immediately rush to the library when I watched this scene. Mary Kate said Blume was her favorite and I wanted nothing more than to be Mary Kate Olsen.
Cut to this weekend, I found a copy of Forever in a used bookstore and figured this is the place and now is the time. I realize now that this book was met with a wave of controversy from religious groups upon its release for the “explicit sexual content” and the fact that the main character used birth control. It had been banned several times and I wish I’d know that sooner because I would’ve definitely bumped it up the list. Anyway, I’m excited to jump into this so let’s do it: Judy Blume’s Forever… here I come!
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I get the pull of this book - it is basically a slow build, low stakes, slice of life ya novel about being a young girl in high school. It had cut and dry scenes and dialogue throughout, the writing style was very plain and to the point. The main character Katherine meets and begins dating her boyfriend Michael and we see them take things to the next level in a very clunky, awkward way that is very honest to the teenage experience.
I will say though, reading this as a 35 year old was not as enjoyable as it probably would have been had I read it at 11.
It was a pretty quick read, though 75% of the book was just build up and it felt like it took longer. Ultimately, all things considered (my age, the controversy, the story, the characters, the writing style, the dumb nickname that Michael had for his penis) I would say this story is only ok. It was fine for me.
I understand that it would have been monumental had I read it at the time it was released, at the age it was intended for and I can appreciate that and all the work Judy Blume’s novels have done when it comes to being honest with young adults and pushing the envelope to challenge book banners everywhere but as far as my enjoyment went, it was medium.