7.27.2014

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | FOREVER.... - JUDY BLUME

 
There's a first for everything.

When you build up something in your mind -- really imagine it, wish for it -- sometimes, when it actually happens, it doesn't live up to your expectations.

True love is nothing like that.

Especially not for Katherine and Michael, who can't get enough of each other. Their relationship is unique: sincere, intense, and fun all at the same time. Although they haven't been together all that long, they know it's serious. A whole world opens up as young passion and sexuality bloom.

But it's senior year of high school, and there are big changes ahead. Michael and Katherine are destined for another big "first": a decision. Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?
- Goodreads


------

I am vaguely ashamed to admit that I didn't read Judy Blume growing up. I had heard of her books, of course, but I just never really felt the need to read them. But over the years as I've grown up and learned about such things as feminism and sexism and being a girl in a man's world etc. etc. I've learned to place value on women's voices that share true experiences with one another. And in particular those that do so in a way that encourages girls to make the decisions that are right for them (particularly when it comes to their own bodies).

According to the introduction of Forever..., Judy wrote this book for her daughter, who asked for a story where teenagers had sex and no one died or got punished. To which I say: Amen, sister.

Nearly 40 years have passed since this book was first published, and I am reviewing it in a world that, eerily, seems to have slid backwards when it comes to women's rights. Abstinence-only education is not yet a thing of the past, and women are still fighting for the right to control their own bodies without judgement or intervention - whether that means birth control or abortion.

So on the one hand, I loved this book. I loved that it allowed for two responsible teenagers to make decisions about where, how and with whom they wanted to have sex without vilifying them. But on the other hand, it also made me incredibly sad that for many teens (and adults, for that matter), this is not yet a reality.

And this is precisely why I consider this to be not only an important book for young girls to read - but one that has actually become even more relevant today than it was at the time of publication. It raises as many questions as it answers, but they are vital questions.

The story itself isn't difficult to follow, and I loved the authentic portrayal of what first love can be like. I loved that the characters are flawed and complex - neither perfect nor evil - and that there is so much to relate to.

This is a book I recommend teenaged girls read - particularly if they're struggling with tough decisions about when and how to become sexually active. It's one I'd give to my own teenaged daughter if I had one.

Though it's best read by young women, I did find some interesting social aspects reading it as a 30-something woman. There is a lot to discuss here, and the discussions it raises are, I believe, ones we need to be having - now more than ever.  I can definitely see why Blume is a teenage staple. She certainly deserves to be.

------

Book Title: Forever...
Author: Judy Blume
Series: No
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released: April 29, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Women's Issues
Pages: 240
Date Read: June 18-July 2, 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

2 comments :

  1. Funny, I was just reading another review of this recently...Blume was really a feminist voice for girls and young women, and yet I think a lot of people didn't realize it or have memories of her simply as a nice young adult author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true. What really struck me was the relevance this book carries today - and it was written in the '70s! On the one hand it's wonderful that her books are still read and printed (this being a new edition), but it is rather grim to consider how little progress has been made in some areas in regards to sex education, attitudes towards young women and availability of birth control and reproductive advice. It very much hammers home the point that we cannot afford to simply sit back and feel as if there's no more progress to be made. I like knowing that if I ever have a daughter (or if women around me do), I can give them Blume's books and hopefully help them feel more empowered to make their own choices and demand the answers and information they need.

      Delete

Share Buttons