Judy Blume's Forever
Book review by Ramona Davis
First love. First time sex. First break up. What a way to begin, and end, senior year in high school.
I first read Forever... by Judy Blume when I was fifteen years old. I was a sophomore in high school and I remember being intrigued that there was a book in our school library that brought to my imaginary world all the things that my classmates were thinking about and actually doing - having parties...and having sex. I was one of the few that believed that I was too young to even think about having a boyfriend, much less sex.
Here I was however, reading about Katherine and Michael, who meet at a New Years eve party, and find that they are attracted to each other, though at first, Katherine denies it. She finally decides to go out with Michael and over several dates, they fall in love. With love, of course, comes the need for sexual exploration.
Michael is the first who is ready for sex but Katherine takes a grown up approach and holds off until she feels that she is truly ready. She even does the responsible thing and after their first couple of times, goes to Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills.
In the midst of their new relationship and first time having sex, there is preparation and acceptance into college, which gives Katherine and Michael the first inkling that they may be separated. Just as they begin to work things out though, their parents intervene and get them summer jobs that truly separate them for ten weeks.
While they faithfully write letters back and forth for the first few weeks, Katherine sees the possibility of happiness with a co-counselor (Theo) at the camp she is working at, and her letters to Michael become far less frequent; on a whim, Michael decides to surprise Katherine with a visit after her grandfather has passed away.
Instead of the warm feelings of forever that Katherine hoped to feel when she saw Michael, she has feelings of doubt because of her attraction to Theo. When she tries to explain this to Michael, things go awry and they break up. Eventually, Katherine ends up dating Theo and running into Michael in a store in town where they are both shopping for last minute items for college. Katherine's last thought in the book is that she hopes that Michael knows that she will always love him.
Reading Forever... 25 years after I first read it, I can't believe that with its heavy issues it was in my school library. Forever... covers everything from teen pregnancy to birth control to teen suicide (one of the characters committed suicide because he couldn't go to the college of his choice) to having sex for the first time. Actually, I think I am more amazed that my parents let me read the book than I am that it was housed on my school library shelf.
Even though these issues are very prevalent in today's society, as much as they were when Ms. Blume wrote the book back in 1975 (though a lot less taboo), I don't think I could be so open a parent as to let my teenage daughter learn about such heavy topics from a book.
I do commend Ms. Blume however, for bringing these issues to light for those teens that may not have had parents willing to talk to them about the issues between the pages of Forever. I also thank her for introducing me to issues that I felt more at ease with bringing to my parents' attention to talk with me about.
No matter the age, teen or adult, Forever... by Judy Blume is a wonderful look into the transition from teen to adult for those that do not have the proper parental guidance in their life, but I encourage parents everywhere to use it as a tool to open the way into discussion with teens, as opposed to letting teens use it as a self-help sort of read.
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