Author: Judy Blume
Pages: 208 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads
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.
But it's senior year of high school, and there are big changes ahead. Michael and Katherine are destined for another big "first": a decision. Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?
Most teen girls I know have read at least one Judy Blume book during their lifetime, so I felt like I was missing out on something. It kind of turns out that I wasn't, as Forever was nothing if not flat - yet I'm glad I read it. Not only was it a quick read, but it was a realistic romance, unlike so many of those cheesy happily-ever-afters we get nowadays. I think Blume is a must-read for young girls for the experience, but the books don't hold exactly the same impact that they used to.
Now for reviews, I don't really talk much about my personal life, but I think I'm going to make an exception here (this paragraph is a spoiler minefield by the way!) Forever surrounds this idea of young love, and how it feels so huge and important at the time, but in actuality it isn't "forever". Blume manages to bring this story to life not through her writing or characterisation, but the fact that the plot is incredibly realistic and brutally blunt - a lot of readers will be able to put themselves in Katherine's shoes, turning the story into their own - that's certainly what I did, anyway. At 14, I had my first "serious" boyfriend, and at the time, he felt like my entire world; we did everything together, and time apart seemed weird and uncomfortable. Like most naive couples, we promised forever - but after four months, the magic died for me, so I broke it off. This may seem unimportant, and I guess it is, but the harsh ending of their relationship gave me that déjà vu feeling, because Michael reacted exactly how my ex did! No author who writes "realistic" books really writes a break up that is that blunt - there's usually tears and kisses and apologies and drama llamas everywhere. Blume just wrote it how it is, and that gave me a whole lot of respect for this book. Whilst a lot of it was boring and outdated, the entire storyline is very real, and I think it is the kind of book a lot of young teenage girls should at least try.
I understand that when this was published, it caused a heck of a lot of controversy. In those days, authors just simply didn't use the word 'penis' so freely, especially in a book written for young adults! So bearing that in mind, I'm impressed at Blume for taking the initiative to write such a thing, and for doing it in what would have been classed as a well-written piece. However, looking at it from a modern day perspective, it's pretty bland and bad. I mean, I've read Fifty Shades of Grey - compare this to erotic fiction, and it may as well have been written for five-year-olds it's so tame.
I think the characters of Michael and Katherine were created as very stereotypical teenagers in their first proper relationship, meaning that they weren't incredibly in-depth or interesting as they lacked uniqueness. However, they do appeal to everyone reading this because we can relate to them and the rollercoaster of emotions they go through. I personally thought that the pair didn't really have any chemistry between them, but again I can find this realistic element to it - I mean, aren't a lot of first relationships awkward? Isn't it easy to develop a crush on someone even if you have nothing in common with them? She really did manage to capture the idea of puppy love excellently.
As for the plot and language, they were both bad. The plot was predictable, and there were a lot of dull moments that were thankfully over quickly due to how short the book was. The language was very plain and simple, and the sentence structure lacked variety and a good pace. I know I'm starting to sound like my English teacher, but it's true - as far as the writing goes, I think maybe even I could have written something better.
Overall, I've had to approach this book with two different mindsets - one from back in the seventies when it was published, and one from the modern day where books have a lot more freedom. I'm sure if I'd been alive to read it when it was first published, it would get at least four stars, as there is no denying the Blume was seen as a futuristic kind of author. However, reading it now, I wasn't impressed - there are a lot of books like this out there, and whilst they may lack the exact realistic aspects that this has, they are a lot more interesting.