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BANNED BOOKS GROUP READS > Forever by Judy Blume General Discussion

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message 1: by Kelly H. (Maybedog), Big Kahuna, Ministry of Illicit Reading (new)

Kelly H. (Maybedog) (maybedog) | 623 comments Mod
This topic is for discussing the book Forever by Judy Blume. Please mark any spoilers with a "***spoiler alert***" so those who have not yet finished the book may participate in the discussion.


message 2: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 06, 2010 06:41AM) (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments Spoiler Alert!!

I have not reread the book yet, but I remember reading it in the 80s when I was in high school. It was all the rage and everyone was talking about all of the sexuality in it and the fact that Michael named his penis; the talk was almost as though the whole book was about sex, sex, sex. Well, I read the book, but I honestly never understood (and still don't understand) what all of the fuss was about. The book is definitely not primarily about sex, it is about two teenagers falling in love, engaging in their first heavy relationship, and while sex is a part of that relationship, it is not the only theme in the novel. In fact, I think the main themes in this novel are the many relationships, Katherine's relationship with Michael, her relationship with her immediate family, and also the incredibly loving and nurturing relationship she has with her grandparents. The silly part about all of these so-called do-gooders who wanted to (and continue to) want to ban and/or censor the book, is that their rantings make the book appear as though it is some pornographic trash, when it is, in fact, a novel about teenage relationships, feelings, school, choices etc.


message 3: by Satia (new)

Satia I was 13 when I first read this book and I remember enjoying it a lot. I pretty much loved anything Blume wrote for a while but somewhere between 13 and 14 I discovered historical novels and Tolkien so I pretty much got lost in massive books and trilogies.

My library has 5 copies on-order so I don't know if they'll get any in any time soon (or any time soon enough) but I put myself in the queue for a copy when they do arrive.


message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie S. More Spoilers!!!

I did not personally like this one. I think that Blume was trying to write a solid book for teenagers that showed that they were more grown-up than most adults gave them credit for.

I think that she generally did a good job throughout the novel with that. However, it all fell apart (for me, at least) when one character tries to commit suicide. That is a tough topic that needs to be dealt with properly, but it seems like she dropped the ball there. It seems like she discussed it for a couple of paragraphs, and then moved on to other stuff that seemed trivial in comparison. She made it seem like it was not a big deal to any of the other characters because they each just moved on with their lives.

I don't know if anyone else felt like this, but that's my $.02.


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 06, 2010 07:09AM) (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments Some more minor Spoilers!!

Also, I found that after reading the book at about age fifteen or sixteen (approximately, I am not entirely sure) I realised that I was definitely not ready to have that kind of sexual relationship (or any sexual relationship) with a young man yet (even those few boys at school whom I found physically and emotionally attractive).

The candid way Judy Blume describes the ups and downs of Katherine and Michael's relationship, the responsibility required to prevent unwanted pregnancy (condoms, but particularly how the use of birth control pills is really the sole responsibility of the woman), and especially, what happened to Erica's cousin Sybil, made me realise that I wanted to wait, it made me realise that I wanted to wait more than any sex education class, any adult preaching abstinence, any condemnation from conservative church groups ever could have achieved.

Some of the individuals who want to ban "Forever" seem to think (as I mentioned previously) that the whole book is about sex, sex, sex, some actually claim that it is a sex manual for teenagers; they could not have been more wrong. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of these individuals have never actually read the book, or maybe have attempted to count so-called bad words, sexual images etc.; that, to me is not legitimate criticism, it is childish behaviour and takes the book completely out of context. Granted, if I had children, I would probably not be thrilled if they were to read "Forever" at, say, age ten or eleven, not because of the sexuality, but because the themes would likely be above them. This book, however, should never be banned, and I think it would likely be a good book to use in sex education classes. I think it would get the message across much better than some dry textbook like material, or brochures promoting abstinence.


message 6: by Courtney (last edited Sep 06, 2010 07:32PM) (new)

Courtney | 4 comments I may have an unpopular opinion here, but I loved this book, it was great except that I thought Michael was a pretty flat character. He didn't have any of the emotions that Katherine (her family and friends included) had.
Dare I say it but as I was reading it I thought
the only reason he was in the book
was to get in Katherine's pants. However after they went their separate ways he did gain some depth.

I also agree with you Gandula, I thought this was insanely true to life, I loved how it wasn't glamourized or candy-coated

I live in a small economically depressed town,
a recent state health survey at my school found that 76%
eighteen year olds in our school district are sexually active, so this is reality for them


message 7: by Julie (last edited Sep 07, 2010 05:38PM) (new)

Julie S. I have to agree that Michael was not a very good character. What was with the Ralph thing?


message 8: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments Joann wrote: "Julie wrote: "More Spoilers!!!

I did not personally like this one. I think that Blume was trying to write a solid book for teenagers that showed that they were more grown-up than most adults gave ..."


I am not sure if this is relevant or even a correct observation, but I've always had the feeling that Judy Blume generally does a better job writing about female characters than male characters. I've always felt that her female characters (like Katherine, Margaret etc.) are on the whole more fleshed out and more believable than many of her male characters. In "Forever" both Michael and Artie are not nearly as complex and well depicted as Katherine, Erica, even Katherine's sister Jamie. And, then, when a basically stock character like Artie is described as having tried suicide, you end up with a bit of a problem; Artie was simply not fleshed out enough, there was not enough to the character and the suicide somehow felt simply as being an add-on. It did not make me despise the book, and I have to say that it did not bother me so much when I read the book as a teenager, but reading it now, I think Judy Blume should either have expanded this theme a bit, or just left it out.


message 9: by Satia (new)

Satia My library had this book on order and got it surprisingly fast. I'm not reading it very quickly, however, because I have other books I'm really enjoying and I don't want an easy distraction right now. But I did start it and already I think it sounds almost quaint.

It did stir up some memories, though, of this one summer when my best friend kissed my boyfriend and . . . well, that's another story and has nothing to do with this young adult novel except that it was the same summer and I had Forever with me which made me quite the sought after girl because not everyone had a mother who would let her daughter read this scandalous novel.


message 10: by Satia (new)

Satia Is anyone else finding Judy Blume's use (abuse) of ellipses annoying? At best I think they are distracting but the truth is, I find myself putting the book down far more frequently than I typically would because I catch myself counting how many times she uses them on every page.


message 11: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments Satia wrote: "Is anyone else finding Judy Blume's use (abuse) of ellipses annoying? At best I think they are distracting but the truth is, I find myself putting the book down far more frequently than I typicall..."

I did not notice it when I read this book in high school, but yeah, it's a bit of a bother, but not enough for me to consider it annoying. It certainly does not make me like the book less, but I don't love the book as much this time around (although I still think it's a great book for teenagers and an amazing book for its time).


message 12: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz I loved this book when I read it at around 12 years old or so. I thought it was excellent then especially because it was considered "contraband reading" ;). I read it again at 16 and again around 19 and I liked it on the rereads. When I read it in my 20s I thought it was horribly dated and that the love story wasn't as good as the memories I had. I still think it's a really good novel and can't understand why anyone would ban it. I don't have my girl in the locket copy anymore (wish I could find a copy with that cover!) but one of these days I'll buy a new version. It's prime keeper shelf material :)


message 13: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 21, 2010 06:08AM) (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments Eastofoz wrote: "I loved this book when I read it at around 12 years old or so. I thought it was excellent then especially because it was considered "contraband reading" ;). I read it again at 16 and again around 1..."

I wish I could find that copy, I had a copy like that as well, but it fell apart due to multiple rereadings. The new version I have now, the cover has two sets of legs on a bed (Katherine's and Michael's, I assume). The cover is not nearly as nice as the girl in the locket cover, and it also strengthens the presumption that the whole book is about what goes on in the bedroom, that the whole novel is about sex, when it so clearly is not. However, you are right about the novel being a bit dated now. I am still enjoying the book, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed it in high school. But, you know, even in high school, I thought that the book was more about first love, family, relationships and the ups and downs of being a teenager. I never even then thought that the book was primarily about sex, it was about Michael and Katherine falling in love, and sexuality was simply a part of the equation.


message 14: by Satia (new)

Satia Gundula wrote: "I never even then thought that the book was primarily about sex, it was about Michael and Katherine falling in love, and sexuality was simply a part of the equation. "

I definitely agree. My memory of the book was not that it was so centered on sex so much as it was on the natural progression of a healthy relationship. Certainly, the relationship between Katherine and Michael is more healthy than one reads in many novels that are about love and romance.


message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie S. My memory is pretty fuzzy on this book, but it did not seem to me that they had a healthy relationship. Sure, their relationship was probably better than others in many teen novels, but I would call them role models. Michael came across as whiny and pushy.


message 16: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 21, 2010 03:26PM) (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments Julie wrote: "My memory is pretty fuzzy on this book, but it did not seem to me that they had a healthy relationship. Sure, their relationship was probably better than others in many teen novels, but I would cal..."

Well, I think that they had a much healthier relationship than what is depicted in many YA books. Certainly a lot healthier and normal than many of the romances featured in current YA series, like Sweet Valley High, Twilight etc. Yeah, they were a little too much into each other, but I've seen that occur in many "real life" romances. I don't think Michael is supposed to be some paragon of virtue (and neither is Katherine, thankfully), they are just a pretty standard couple experiencing their first heavy duty relationship (I think Michael is a bit more immature, as well as a bit more sexually experienced than Katherine, but that is normal as well, unfortunately). They certainly do not have an unhealthy relationship, I think they have a relatively normal relationship, a relationship that in the end proves not to be as long-lasting, as forever as both protagonists thought.

And, I am actually glad that Judy Blume wrote this novel realistically, that she did not strive to make either Katherine or Michael into some sort of teenage role models. You know, when I was a teenager, I got really annoyed at reading certain YA and children's literature that always had to have some deep and heavy message, that always had to have the protagonists as role models. Sometimes, you just want to read a realistic story, a story that also does not shy away from showing the ups and downs, the problems and joys of being a teenager and experiencing love, lust and hormones (and that was one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much, it was interesting, spoke realistically to me, and covered areas that I would have felt weird asking my parents about, areas that my parents also would not have enjoyed discussing with me).


message 17: by Satia (new)

Satia Gundula, I concur. I resisted the urge to say anything here but in my actual review of this book I specifically said that I'd rather my children read this than Twilight. Albeit, my children are older now but I can say that if my granddaughter were to ask me what book she should read and she presented me a choice, I would definitely say "Read Blume and not Meyer."

Julie, I think the fact that they are not "role models" is all the more commendable. Michael's weakness as a lover and, as you say, his whininess, give the reader a reason for Katherine being attracted to someone else. Had he been too ideal, why would she so easily and so quickly move to another man?

I loved how insecure they were about anything and everything. It was sweet. Frankly, I don't remember being that unsure of myself although there are times, with decades of experience under my belt, when I still get butterflies and think more about my thighs than about the moment. LOL!


message 18: by Kara (new)

Kara (karasmannequin) | 5 comments I'm about 100 pages into the book. I have a boyfriend, and I'm about the main character's age, and the fact that he's not at all like Michael in the sense that he pressures her so much made me relieved. I was also kind of disturbed how he named 'Ralph,' but I guess that might relate to other people.

I did like the narrator of the book, though she seemed kind of feeble and weak-minded. I thought she was intelligent and sweet, your typical 'innocent' teenage girl, I guess you could say.

I agree with those who say that Michael and Kath's relationship is healthier than many, like Bella and Edward's 'obsession' with one another you could say in Twilight or in other YA series. But I also have to agree with someone that mentioned Blume was being realistic, not trying to portray rolemodels for everyone to fall in love with.

This book is a quick and fun read so far, though there are some parts that I quickly skim over.


message 19: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 24, 2010 05:06AM) (new)

Manybooks | 474 comments I think Judy Blume mostly does not (thankfully) portray any (or hardly any) of her characters as role models, and I think that is one reason why the books are so popular with young adults, and also why some of the more unenlightened, fanatically conservative members of North American society have had problems with the books and wanted them banned (they require role models, unquestioning adherence to the demands and dictates of society or religion etc.). And, reality is often a bitter pill to swallow for some individuals, there was and I think still is an attitude that children's literature should be happy and uncomplicated and that the realistic, problematic and dark parts of society are not only evil, but should not be allowed to be discussed. Unfortunately, this will not make the problems go away, it will just make them fester and mutate. Judy Blume might be a bit dated now, but when I was a teenager, it was from her books that I learned about menstruation (my mother refused to talk about it, she just handed me some pads), sexuality, body image etc. But, even today, many individuals would rather have their children ignorant and naive (and this is dangerous).

One of the things that I found so great about "Forever" was the relationship Katherine has with her grandparents. In many ways, her grandmother is more up-to-date, more with it than her own parents (it was her grandmother who gave Katherine the information about the clinic, so she could get birth control pills, she did not preach, she made sure Katherine was prepared, wow, how cool and how modern is that). I know that my grandmothers would never have been this understanding, this "modern" (they were also incredibly boring compared to Katherine's grandparents who actually took her to outings they knew she would enjoy, not outings that "they" would enjoy, they listened to her).


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