Picked this one off the library shelf thinking I hadn't read it. Turned out I had but I still couldn't remember whodunnit. But it was a good ending anPicked this one off the library shelf thinking I hadn't read it. Turned out I had but I still couldn't remember whodunnit. But it was a good ending and as it was written in the 60s, I can class it as research (sort of)...more
I see the words 'Judy Blume readalong' crop up on my Twitter feed and my first thought is I'M THERE. Wouldn't that be everyone's first thought, surelyI see the words 'Judy Blume readalong' crop up on my Twitter feed and my first thought is I'M THERE. Wouldn't that be everyone's first thought, surely? I had planned on my own read through of the Blume's back catalogue last summer after going to her talk at Waterstones in Piccadilly, but I only got as far as Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing swiftly followed by Superfudge. Might get around to writing those reviews one of these days...
Anyway, when I saw Keris Stainton had organised a Judy Blume readalong in preparation for the author's appearance at YALC in July, I was grabbing my copy of Forever off the shelf before you could say 'no, I really don't want to take a look at Ralph thank you', because, yes, the first book to be read was Forever, and the Twitter hashtag was #readalongralph. Anyone who read this book in their youth (or indeed their adulthood) knows all about Ralph.
My own memories of Forever are vague to say the least. I remember Ralph, of course, and I remember the rug and the events which took place on the rug but other than that, it was all a bit hazy. Basically I remember the sex. When I first encountered this book I was about 11 and I couldn't quite believe there was a book that talked about willies, and now, as a 35-year-old reading this is 2015, I'm still struggling to get my head around that fact. It's so strange to think that a YA book written and published in the 1970s with this much frank sexual content probably wouldn't be published now (or would it? My instincts think not. Maybe I'm wrong). Does this mean we're regressing, or that teens want less-in your-face sex in their books? Or that (more likely) we're underestimating teenagers' abilities to grasp the realities of sex, downsides and all?
This leads me onto the book itself. There is a lot to love about Forever, but I'm not entirely convinced it worked as whole. I remember when I went to her talk last year, she said she wanted to write a book about teenagers having sex where no one died, and this is the thing I appreciated most about it - a realistic depiction of teenage sex that feels just as relevant now as I imagine it would have done when first released, and the fact that this sort of frankness isn't rally found in most contemporary YA means Forever is even more vital today. I loved the trademark Blume sense of humour, the rich selection of engaging supporting characters and perhaps most of all, I loved the positive depictions of women and girls - a grandmother who once ran for Congress, a supportive best friend who's mother is a leading film critic, a anthropologist sister - all this is depicted in a very naturalistic way, just as it should be, because it is natural to be surrounded by strong, clever, supportive women.
But the fact that these supporting characters were so well depicted shines a light on the shortcomings of Katherine and Michael. They were just a little bit dull in comparison. Katherine made a lot of mature decisions but I never really understood what she saw in Michael. It's never really explain why he is THE ONE, the only really indication being that she loves him because he shows an interest in her - realistic, perhaps but still not very satisfying from a reader's point of view, and I think that same sentiment can be used to sum up Michael too.
Forever still feels like a very important book and I'm glad I revisited it. However, in writing a book about sex, some other things that would have made this a better read, like plot, took a back seat. So a vital book, yes, but by no means a perfect one.
Just quick request for publishers to please keep in the small, beautiful reminders that this is a period piece in future editions - Katherine's brushed nylon nightdress, her joy at the mushrooms embroidered onto her jeans, a teenagers' fondue party (although perhaps this would happen today in an ironic way) and the icing on the cake, Theo and his glorious moustache.
Started off fairly promising with an intriguing plot but quickly became ridiculous. Cliched characters (bitter ex-wife, damaged free spirit, callous mStarted off fairly promising with an intriguing plot but quickly became ridiculous. Cliched characters (bitter ex-wife, damaged free spirit, callous mistress) and the not-very-surprising ending was more comical than chilling. ...more
Started this just after I'd finished listening to the Serial podcast and the similarities between the public's obsession with both cases is interestinStarted this just after I'd finished listening to the Serial podcast and the similarities between the public's obsession with both cases is interesting/unnerving.
The author goes off on many tangents to put this into context and set the scene but sometimes I wish she'd stuck a bit more to the case at hand and telling that story. But still a compelling read and the ending is well worth the wait....more
It's no secret that I love Keren David's books - I don't think there's any other author that nails the British teenage experience quite like she does.It's no secret that I love Keren David's books - I don't think there's any other author that nails the British teenage experience quite like she does. Although I've haven't reviewed it here, her previous book Salvage manages to balance realistic characters, engaging plot and heart-rending issues, something that I imagine is far trickier than it looks. I hate describing reads as 'issue' books, because it somehow feels like a disparaging comment rather than a compliment, with an automatic assumption that for a book to deal with tough or diverse issues, it has to sacrifice something in terms of plot or character. Ok, this has been true of some books but as This is Not a Love Story shows, just as Salvage did, it's more than possible to write about issues without sacrificing anything at all.
This where the similarities with Salvage end, however. Whereas that previous book put me through the emotional ringer by confronting some of the darker parts of society, This is Not a Love Story beams positivity and is one of the most refreshing books I've read in a long time. In fact, I can't think of anything it really falls into the same bracket as at all. Kitty's optimistic outlook on life is infectious and seeps through every page. I adored Kitty, but then I adored Theo and Ethan too - can't actually choose between them and wouldn't want to! This is the most realistic depiction of modern teens I've read in a long time - they're funny, emotional, they don't always have all the answers and they make mistakes, but then they move on. Their small expat community reminded me a lot of my gap year interactions many moons ago - you arrive in a new place, you fall in with a group and you get along with people no matter what your differences.
This is the first YA book I've read about Judaism and I loved the way it was presented as both a uniting force and common ground between Kitty and Theo, but also showed how religion isn't one dimensional - their upbringings had more differences than they did similarities and this connection wasn't the be all and end for them. Also, a shout out to the structure of the story - the added element of mystery ensured this a proper, bonefide page turner.
So whereas This is Not a Love Story isn't a love story (or is it?...), this review definitely is - a love story between woman and book (imagine a heart emoji right here - I don't how to do one on my desktop, sorry)....more
I really wanted to like this one more. I just didn't feel the chemistry between the two main characters and the writing style started to get on my nerI really wanted to like this one more. I just didn't feel the chemistry between the two main characters and the writing style started to get on my nerves after a while - I'm all for dual pov but this felt like it switched between the two in all the wrong places and consequently there were gaps in character development, especially with Linda.
But it was clearly meticulously researched and the author balanced the many issues here really well. And the fact that so many people are reading and talking about this book is a wonderful thing. ...more
Still made me laugh. And I think I may have read it more than a couple of times as a kid because I found myself reciting bits before they'd even happeStill made me laugh. And I think I may have read it more than a couple of times as a kid because I found myself reciting bits before they'd even happened....more