Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: Forever by Judy Blume

Wasn't this book a life-altering read for every teenager? I probably first read it when I was thirteen (sorry Mom) and I did learn a lot. What I thought I was learning about was the details and mechanics of sex, but upon rereading I discover to my surprise that Ms. Blume hid a lot of lessons about relationships and love.

Katherine and Michael are both seniors in high school. They meet at a New Year's Eve party, and quickly become serious. After several months, and after discussion, they have sex (oh, how vividly I remembered the ski weekend with Michael's sister!) They use a condom, and afterwards Kath goes to Planned Parenthood and gets on the pill. I was glad to see that my version has an added paragraph from Ms. Blume at the beginning explaining that this was written before AIDS, and that condoms are always recommended for the prevention of STDs.

They are determined to stay together despite skepticism by their parents of the longevity of the relationship. Kath decides to go to the University of Colorado as Michael can become a ski instructor and spend the winters out there. I wonder what she thinks of this decision after they break up at the end of the book but it isn't addressed (I did a similar thing. My high school boyfriend was a factor in my decision where to go to college, and then we broke up. Can't change things at that point, but I always wondered if I would have made the same decision without that factor.)

Also, Katherine and Michael's best friends Artie and Erica have a somewhat different relationship, where Artie thinks he might be gay but isn't sure. Also Sybil, Erica's cousin, becomes pregnant, has the baby, and gives it up for adoption. So there are a lot of situations discussed that teenagers first grappling with love and sex can find themselves dealing with. I was a little surprised that the stories weren't as good as I rememebered. The characters were a little flat and some parts seemed just to be to service the educational goals of the book, as opposed to the characters and plot. But nostalgia wins me over and I did thoroughly enjoy rereading it.

This book is very important for teens. Not everyone gets all the information they need, and there needs to be resources for them. This is one of the most frequently banned books in the US which is just wrong. No books should ever be banned, but trying to keep information about sex away from teens is not only a fruitless effort but also desn't ever prevent sex. It just prevents knowledge for how to prevent bad situations. September is Banned Books Month.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.


Julie P. said...

Great review! I read this one last year for the Shelf Discovery Challenge and was extremely surprised with how I remembered the book versus what it was in reality.

Kate Scott said...

Interesting review, though I disagree that trying to keep information about sex away from teens is a fruitless effort that doesn't prevent sex. Statistics show that teens exposed to sexual content in the media (particularly visual media, but also written) are more likely to have sex.


Lyndsey said...

I completely agree with you Carin - this is such an important book, and even though my friends and I giggled about it a lot when we were together (Ralph?!) I think when we actually read it alone, we got a lot of profound information.
Kate - I think it's the quality of information that's important, and Forever does a good job of showing teenage girls (who may be under pressure or whose judgement may not match their hormones) exactly what the consequences may be, how important respect and trust are in relationships are rather than just leaping into bed with the first guy that comes along. Doesn't the grandmother say something like 'once you've had sex you can't go back to holding hands?' So I think Forever is a great way actually to counter the overt sexualisation in our culture.
Wasn't it written in the pre-aids era though? I seem to remember them ditching the condoms early on.
Wow, this book must have had a huge impact on me: I remember loads about it!

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

I think every young teen girl in American must have passed this book furtively from hand to hand back then! Judy Blume was wildly popular, but I should not have read this book when I was 13 years old. Way TMI at that age. I would be interested to go back and read it now, but I'm not surprised you described the characters as rather flat. I don't think we were really ready for deep character development back then!

Lyndsey said...

Ah, I missed your comment on the condoms before. Good call on updating it, Judy.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read Forever . . . by Judy Blume . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.