Book Summary: When Kath meets Michael, she finds herself slowly falling for him. They date for some time, and Michael wants things to move fast while Kath wants to take things slowly. Her parents and grandma are worried she will end up pregnant or with VD. Her friend Erica attempts to start dating Artie, Michael’s friend. Artie, on the other hand, is questioning his sexuality and looks to Erica for help in determining it. Sybil is used to “going all the way”, and finds herself facing the consequences of this. Forever… follows all of these characters and their journeys through senior year, but mostly focuses on Kath and Michael’s firsts. Kath and Michael take their relationship further and promise each other forever. As senior year ends, they are faced with the meaning of forever and if it is even a possibility between them.
APA Reference of Book: Blume, J. (1975). Forever…. Scarsdale, NY: Bradbury Press.
Impressions: Wow. I understand this book is a classic, but times have changed. I did not like this book at all. I cringed my way through it. There were some dated moments involving the men in Kath’s life feeling as though they had control of her that made me uncomfortable. When I got to the part when Michael named his penis ‘Ralph’ and said he did it for her, I wanted to throw the book across the room. It just felt so predatory and gross. In terms of plot, there were way too many “hot topics” happening in this story. There was teen sex, periods, attempted suicide, teen pregnancy, talk of abortion, adoption, and recreational weed usage. It felt as though Blume was trying to check all of the typical young adult plot topic boxes. It was all too much in too short of time, and I’m certain I’ve left a few things out. I disliked the characters as they were one-dimensional. We don’t learn anything other than base level facts such as their likes and dislikes and physical appearance. Michael made me uncomfortable, particularly during the sex descriptions. Jamie, her sister, was not realistic. She is what fandom calls a “Mary Sue”. She’s 12, gifted artistically and mentally, and can cook like a Michelin star chef. It was laughable and ridiculous. Artie was handled well for the time that this book was written. I can understand why this book has been challenged. The descriptions of sex, hand jobs, gynecological exams, putting aftershave on one’s balls, and birth control methods, not to mention the language and use of the f-word, are just some of the many reasons why a parent would have issues with this book.
I found that this book was not well written. There was unnecessary inclusion of some things, which mimics the way young adults talk. There were too many ellipses. Many sections went on with dialogue and no labels. Punctuation wise, this book was missing commas in places that rightfully deserved them. This, after some thought, is likely because this book was written in 1975, and writing rules have advanced exponentially since. I found the end of the book realistic, as high school sweethearts don’t last forever. I also appreciated the nod to Planned Parenthood as an ally and an excellent source for information and health check-ups. My favorite line in this book was by Jamie, “hate and war are bad words but fuck isn’t” (Blume, 2003, p. 39).
Professional Review: “Increasingly Judy Blume’s books center on single topics and the topic here, as pronounced in the first sentence, is getting laid. Cath and Michael fall in love when both are high school seniors, and Blume leads up to It date by date and almost inch by inch (hand over sweater, hand under skirt…) and then, after the breakthrough, describes each session until the kinks in timing and such are straightened out. (There’s also a word-for-word transcript of her Planned Parenthood interview and a letter from Grandma, who’s heard she is “going steady,” advising birth control.) For Cath though forever lasts only until her parents send her off to a summer camp job and she finds herself unwillingly attracted to the tennis counselor she’s assisting; Michael takes it without much grace but Cath will never regret one single thing because it was all very special. “I think it’s just that I’m not ready for forever.” As usual with this immensely popular author, Forever… has a lot of easy, empathic verity and very little heft. Cath like Blume’s other heroines is deliberately ordinary, which means here (despite friends, nice family, etc.) that outside of the love affair she’s pretty much a blank. In fact this could be a real magnet for all those girls who took to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret just a few years ago and haven’t changed all that much since. Another way of looking at Forever… is as an updated Seventeenth Summer.”– Kirkus Reviews
Forever [Review of the book Forever. (2011, October 15). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/judy-blume/forever-4/
Library Uses: I would use this book with high school students during Banned Book Week and have them do read outs of milder areas of the book.