Here’s my seventh post for the 2015 Classics Challenge! It’s not too late to join me (and 190+ other people) in reading one classic per month.
“’Forever?’ he asked. ‘Forever,’ I said.”
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.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I first read Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters in late 2013 and, after falling in love with it, I bought her earlier novels for pre-teens and teenagers, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret and Forever.
WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to delve into another Judy Blume because it had been nearly a year since I read Margaret. She was also visiting the country the same month, as part of her tour to promote her latest adult novel, In the Unlikely Event. I was lucky to see her at both Waterstones Piccadilly and YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention).
WHAT Makes It A Classic
We have more young adult contemporary romance available to us than we could ever read, but in the 1970s, that wasn’t the case. In the late 90s and early 2000s, even though the term ‘young adult’ was new, I was lucky to grow up with a lot of books aimed at older children and teenagers, but I can see why Forever was ground-breaking for a lot of people.
Forever was a book that talked about falling in love, having sex for the first time and experiencing heartbreak in a way that teenagers in the 60s-80s had never known – and it still remains significant to people who read it as young teenagers. It tackles homosexuality, depression, contraception and break-ups. But have we moved on? Only a little. We have plenty of romance, but sex is often fade-to-black. Forever is still one of the most explicit stories about teenage sexuality… and it’s really not that explicit!
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I enjoyed all three Judy Blume novels that I’ve read so far, but Summer Sisters is my favourite, followed by Margaret. I appreciate the significance of Forever and how important was – and still is – to show that a teenage girl can have sex (and enjoy having sex!) and she doesn’t become pregnant, get an STD, or is judged by her friends and family… but I like a bit more to my fictional relationships, too.
I love the friendship between Anna and Étienne in Anna and the French Kiss and the slightly-awkward-but-still-kind-of-cute banter between Hannah and Sam in Lobsters. And, well, Michael is certainly no Étienne St. Clair. While Katherine is thoughtful, considered and mature, Michael thinks of nothing else but sex – and the way he treated Katherine didn’t always sit well with me.
One thing is for sure: I’ll never be able to take anyone called Ralph seriously ever again.
In the Unlikely Event will be my next Judy Blume and then I’ll need another… perhaps Tiger Eyes?
WILL It Stay A Classic
Judy Blume’s Forever offered something completely new and honest for teenagers in the 1970s – a sincere look at love and sexuality. But now we have a wealth of wonderful young adult fiction, so will we need to turn to Forever in another 40 years?
WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love YA contemporary romance. People who grew up in the 70s and 80s. People who have never read Judy Blume!