Forever by Judy Blume

Friday, December 4, 2009

While I can really appreciate the impact that Forever has had upon YA literature and the honesty with which the author broached the topic of teen sex (something she was probably aware would be controversial, considering it was 1975 and all), for me, it really fell flat as a novel. I think it's something definitely worth having teenagers read (the preachiness isn't overly obvious, and I can think of many of my teenaged friends who'd gain something from it), but from the perspective of a reviewer, it was disappointing. Let's continue in dot points:
  • The book consisted largely of dialogue that was pretty unbelievable and these dots '...' of which I don't know the name were used between every second word, making the dialogue hard to follow and also making me very confused. The characters were dull, and I really wished Katherine and Michael had have had some life outside of their obsession with each other (remind you of another book?). I felt Erica and Artie were very odd and underdeveloped, and the plotline with Sybil felt very rushed.
  • The sex in Forever is really quite tame (I was expecting it to be grossly graphic, for some reason. I don't know if I'm desensitized, or if other people overreact). I think what people take issue with is the fact that Katherine and Michael's relationship progresses so quickly, and it seems if the relationship progresses physically because he wants it to, and she wants to please him (I think there's still an attitude among teenage girls - at least the ones I know - that sex is something you do to please your partner, regardless of how you feel about it). There also appears to be no emotional or mental bond between them, as their relationship consists mainly of small-talk and making out. Probably representative of most teenage relationships, but I expect a little more from books.
  • A lot of things date Forever - they go and see a Robert Redford film, for instance. They call condoms 'sheaths' (I have never heard this term before). When Katherine goes to get birth control, she's given a prescription for The Pill - there's no consideration for STDs here. I found it odd, also, that it seems as if it's expected birth control is the responsibility of the woman (and that Katherine is so blase about it. It seems to be as if it would be a big deal. I guess I'm just a prude, though, even on 1975 standards).
  • There are still people claiming in Amazon reviews, and probably elsewhere, that this book encourages teenagers to have sex with people they barely know. Let it be said that I continue to have no desire to sleep with teenaged boys after having read this book.
Have you read Forever? What were your thoughts?
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