Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tahleen reviews: "Forever..." by Judy Blume

Today marks the first day of Banned Books Week! What banned books are you reading this week to celebrate it?


Forever . . .TitleForever...
Author: Judy Blume
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 1975
Where I got it: I took this out of the library.

Rating: ★★★½

When Katherine meets Michael, she begins to feel things she hasn't felt before. Among these are sexual desires, and Katherine must decide if she's ready to lose her virginity. Forever... tells a sweet story of first love and sexual awakening, as well as taking responsibility for the decisions that go along with it.

Katherine and Michael's relationship is pretty accurate of how a teen's first relationship feels like. Katherine narrates her story in an almost diary-like format, telling us all of her experiences and emotions through this first serious relationship in her life, and her first real sexual encounters. Anyone who has been a teenager will understand what she's going through, even if they didn't have sex at the time (or still haven't). Readers will identify with the relationship aspect and the decisions that have to be made within a relationship.

Unfortunately I found the writing a bit bland. There wasn't much of a plot, as it is mostly about sex and, in essence, is meant to educate about how to go about it safely. What really bothered me was the constant use of elipses, which don't just make an appearance in the title. There might be pauses in real speech like that, but I don't particularly care to read it in almost every sentence.

So why am I including this as a Banned Books Week post?

Over the years, Forever... has been challenged many times, so much that it is number 8 on the American Library Association's top 100 banned books list for the decade of 1990-2000. The reason for the challenge is clear: Blume gives detailed descriptions of sexual activity and has Katherine go on the birth control pill. Yet, it doesn't out and out say all teens should go out and start having sex. Rather, Blume educates her readers on the proper precautions they should take should they decide to become sexually active, which, let's face it, many teens do (regardless of whether they read books like Blume's or not).

Instead of banning this book, parents and educators should take the time to talk to their children and students about sex. In fact, this book provides a great starting point for broaching the subject. They know what sex is, and they may have already had sexual experience. If it's not discussed and if all literature pertaining to it is banned, there is no way for them to know how to protect themselves. Sex is a choice that everyone must make. Some will decide to abstain, others won't. It has been like that, well, forever. So don't take the chance for others to learn away by taking this book off the shelves. It might not be the greatest literature out there, but it serves a worthwhile purpose.

8 comments :

  1. I read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret in middle school and I loved it. Maybe I should reread it this week! (I'm pretty sure it was banned at some point).

    I will definitely be reading Speak this week. Not sure what else I'll read yet...unfortunately there are so many choices!

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  2. Ha ha! I'm not gonna lie, I was really excited when I saw you guys reviewed this book. I had heard so much about how *controversial* this book was that I read it out of curiosity about a year ago. To me, it seemed a little bit too idealistic ... I don't really think most high school kids carefully talk about whether or not they are going to have sex and go to Planned Parenthood together.

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  3. I've actually not read anything by Bloom, but I heard about this one a few months ago and it does sound interesting, especially due to the attempted banning history.

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  4. I read Are You There God, It's Me Margaret and it made such a huge impression on me, lol. I am reading Slaughterhouse-Five but want to check this one out too!

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  5. Great review, I never knew udy Blum wrote anything so risque, lol. From your description though, I'm glad this book is out there. This is what teenagers need - a level-headed, realistic approach to how to have safe, responsible sex, not ABSTINENCE OR BUST. Like you said, it may not be all that great-written, but the purpose it serves is important, especially since it's coming from an author so many kids trust and have been reading all their lives.

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  6. I never read this one, except for the "dirty" parts because my friend had memorized the page numbers and showed all her friends. I'm not quite sure what negative effects book challengers/banners think are going to result from young folks reading these books.

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  7. As a teen I used to love Judy Bloom's books, but re-read some recently and thought they are a bit dated. Isn't it always the way that anything that is helpful for teens navigating the horrible teen years is so frequently challenged!

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  8. It's interesting that this was considered such a risque book in its time and is still considered controversial. With the amount of suggestive material in teen books today - not to mention in TV, music, and advertisement - I almost wonder if parents would prefer for their teens to read a book like this that takes an educating standpoint on looking maturely at the decision to become sexually active.

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