Book review: Forever by Judy Blume

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Katherine and Michael meet at a party and start dating soon after. They fall hard and fast for each other, and soon they’re trying to decide whether or not they should have sex. They think that their relationship will last forever, but their parents aren’t convinced. Will their love survive a summer apart?

Somehow, in all of my Judy Blume-obsessed adolescence, I missed this book. I mean, I’d obviously heard of it. (I think everybody’s heard of it.) But somehow I never bought it. I never even checked it out from the library. But I fixed that last weekend when I couldn’t sleep and found it on Overdrive.

It’s hard to rate a book like this. Because, on the one hand, I think it had to have been a really important book for its time. It’s so realistic.

Michael is kind of a jerk, like many teenage boys. (I probably wouldn’t have thought that if I read this as a teenager.) Katherine is kind of boring, like many teenage girls. (I probably wouldn’t have thought that, either.) They decide together that they want to have sex, and that’s pretty much what their relationship then revolves around. There’s a frank discussion of birth control and STDs. One of Katherine’s friends gets pregnant, and while she has the option of abortion, she decides to have the baby. One of Michael’s friends tries to deal with accepting the fact that he’s gay. Katherine’s grandmother is a huge fan of Planned Parenthood and leaves Katherine pamphlets about contraception. Much like real life, nothing dramatic happens as a result of these kids having sex. It just kind of happens. All of this is great.

But then, on the other hand, this book is really boring.

Maybe it’s the writing style. I don’t remember Judy Blume’s writing being so full… of ellipses… But they’re everywhere here. And it makes you feel like… maybe the characters… are kind of dumb… because they can’t… finish a thought… without trailing off.

There’s also zero chemistry between these characters. I can’t figure out what Katherine and Michael actually like about each other, aside from their apparent sexual attraction. They attend different schools. They don’t really have any friends in common. They don’t share any hobbies. I didn’t really date in high school, so maybe that’s what it’s actually like. I wouldn’t know. But this ended up being just another thing that added to my boredom. I just didn’t feel at all engaged while I was reading.

The only other Judy Blume book that I’ve read recently wasIn the Unlikely Event . And while I was reading that, I kept thinking that now that I live in New Jersey, I get a totally different vibe while reading her books. I don’t think I ever really noticed when I was little in Wisconsin, but Judy Blume brings New Jersey to life in her books! As I was readingForever, just like when I was reading In the Unlikely Event, I kept thinking, “Hey, I’ve been there!” And regardless of how much I enjoy a book, it’s really cool to read something that takes place somewhere you’ve actually been.

I think that, had I read this book when I was younger, I would have really liked it. I probably would have been heartbroken at how “forever” doesn’t always last forever. I probably would have known a little bit more about the ways of the world before I got out on my own. In the end, I guess I have to figure out if I should rate based on the importance of this book or based on how much I actually liked it. I think three stars would be a fair compromise.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆