Shelf Discovery Challenge #1: FOREVER by Judy Blume

I am participating in Booking Mama's Shelf Discovery Challenge (discussed here). The challenge requires participants to read six books from Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery, a book about the classic young adult books we all read growing up.

Blume My first choice was Forever, by Judy Blume, a book I only read, shall we say, selections of when I was growing up. I remember the book being passed around at camp, where we all read the more colorful parts (such as p. 73 – a page number I've always remembered). I used to think that the world was separated into two different group of girls – those who had read Forever, and those who hadn't. When I went to the library last week, I swear I was embarrassed to check it out. I didn't make eye contact with the checkout person, and I felt like I was using a fake ID to buy wine coolers.

Forever is the story of the romance between Katherine and Michael, two high school seniors in New Jersey. It's Katherine's first sexual relationship, and the book is a good introduction to sex for teenagers. Katherine is responsible (though the book takes place pre-AIDS) and approaches her physical relationship maturely, but realistically. This being a Judy Blume book, other topics are tackled too – depression, death of a grandparent, teenage pregnancy.

I guess we all liked Forever in the early 80s because it wasn't gross (like The Joy of Sex), and it wasn't creepy, and it wasn't preachy. It was informative and told in a relatable tone. Reading it now, though, I found it somewhat unfulfilling. Katherine fell "out of love" with Michael pretty easily after a few weeks around a handsome fellow tennis instructor at summer camp, which made their relationship seem a bit dubious. I realize that they were 18 years old, but I never got much of a sense of why they thought they loved each other. Reading it as an adult, I was definitely struck by how young – and relatively self-absorbed – the characters were.

I am curious to see if I will have the same reaction to the other five books I am going to read for the challenge. I am definitely glad to have finally read Forever cover to cover, if for no other reason than my daughters probably will in due course, and I want to know what they're being exposed to. And, maybe, because I feel like one of the cool kids now.

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