Forever by Judy Blume
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Even though I read and enjoyed many of Judy Blume's other books when I was a kid, I never read "Forever," so I thought I'd check it out and fill in that hole (no pun intended, but you see how I left it there anyway). I'm glad I didn't read it as a teenager because I'd hate to think that I would have been influenced by it. I'd always heard what a mature book it was and how it was all about a girl's first time and was so explicit. Okay, some of the sex descriptions are specific, but I wouldn't call them graphic or even titillating. The girl and boy in question are so gosh gee that there is a lack of realism permeating on every page that portends to have some. There is no plot to speak of, and all of the supporting characters are types - meant to have depth (the suicidal boy, the stroke victim grandpa, the know-it-all best friend, the gifted younger sister, etc.) - but don't. When the lead girl takes a self-motivated trip to Planned Parenthood, the author's PSA is glaring. I see on IMDB there was a TV movie made of it in 1978, and I suppose for that time, the subject matter itself was controversy enough to warrant adaptation. But it's not a timeless story, and even as a story of its time, it suffers from banality on most accounts. I suppose it deserves some snaps for even tackling the subject at a time when a lot of youth fiction, especially by popular authors didn't... thus two stars instead of one. Oh, and it was also upgraded by me for one memorable exchange between the main character Katherine and a random uncle at her high-school graduation that showed real depth and promise:
The uncle picked something out of his teeth, examined it, then flicked it off his finger. "So tell me," he said. "What do you want to do with your life?"
"Do?" I repeated.
"Yes... you've thought about it, haven't you?"
"I want to be happy," I told him. "And make other people happy too."
"Very nice... but not enough."
"That's all I know right now." I turned and walked away from him.
If only the whole book had been as wry and observant as that! But alas, it wasn't. So I've got to find something better to hand my daughter when the time comes - I've just got to.
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