Forever (a misleading title)

“We saw each other one more time before we left for school.” (Forever by Judy Blume)

Forever CoverI have been fortunate enough to have to freedom to choose what I read since the BookLion’s inception almost 2 years ago. For reasons that I’ve forgotten in the aftermath of Judy Blume’s monochromatic sentences and to-the-point moral plotlines, I’ve decided to tie my leisure-reading fate to a YA course at Simmons this semester. While I am still excited to be reading ‘real’ books for class, instead of research articles, Forever made me wish I had spent my morning pouring over the methods section of the driest of papers instead of cringing through its pages.

While I understand that Judy Blume was instrumental in a lot of teenage lives, I personally never had that problem. But it would be too easy to go on making fun of her one-idea-per-sentence book; that is what everyone does.  If I am being truthful with myself, I have to admit that the ending is really what brought on my current bought of disgust. It turned the novel instantly from a romance into a sort of boring ultra-realism novel. Instead of being a book about idyllic love, it turns out that Forever is about how societal expectations (and other external forces) can shape a person’s life and emotions. In that way, it brings an un-charming reality into the reader’s realm of possibility; something that even I have to admit is in line with real-world experience. Yet, even bestowing this book with a potential use and audience (it could be used as a sexual education book, for example), I still feel secure in labeling Blume as the Berenstain Bear of YA literature – no matter what Judy Blume might have to reveal, she still does it with a tool that is too cumbersome and heavy for the job.

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4 thoughts on “Forever (a misleading title)

  1. Having been pretty close to the target age group when this book was published, I have to defend it on two fronts. First, the YA market at that time had far less to offer, especially in romance, than it does today. Most libraries and book stores didn’t even have a YA section. Girls who wanted romance either read Forever or Harlequin romances–there just wasn’t much out there. Also, when the internet wasn’t there to answer your every question instantly, Forever provided information that a lot of curious girls were grateful to read. I do agree, however, that judged against what is available now, it falls short in many ways.

    • I definitely acknowledge that it was a very important book in a lot of girl’s lives… but I can’t help thinking of it as a sexual education manual or pamphlet as opposed to a work of literature – I believe that it will not withstand the test of time. It might be remembered as a strange phenomenon of the 70’s or a tool in the ‘sexual revolution’ but, apart from that, it doesn’t stand on its own. I hope I didn’t offend you though, I know my post was a little scathing, but I was simply bemused by the bad writing and felt cheated by the obvious agenda the author had. Also, I definitely agree that reading Blume (or the Berenstain Bears for that matter) is infinitely better than reading nothing at all and being left with questions about these issues. I just hope that this class will help lead me to some other literature that answers similar questions, but with a better sense of rhythm and style.

      • No offense at all! I just wanted to make sure you knew why the book was such a success–and so instrumental at the time. I agree that it won’t (doesn’t) stand the test of time–not when there are people like John Green available today!

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