Author: Judy Blume
Read: Mid October 2010
Summary: Loved it.
Everyone should read. Okay. I admit I read a ton of Judy Blume back in Elementary School, but it’s been a long time. I found this because I was trying to find out how edgy YA books really get, particularly with regard to sex. Incredibly, a quick googling seems to indicate that 1975’s Forever is still about as much sex as YA gets. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong (and link me to some books) because I really want to answer the question as to how extreme (when well done) is appropriate for YA books today. In any case, somehow I had missed Forever in the 70’s — probably because I stopped reading Judy Blume at 10 or 11. I shouldn’t have. It’s great, and holds up perfectly well as an adult novel. After reading so many recently published and truly mediocre YA books (I’ll get around to reviewing some of them) this was like a breath of fresh air. First of all, I’m in awe at Blume’s skill at holding your attention with nothing but normal life. Mostly through dialog and a bit of interior monologue she paints incredibly real people effortlessly. I’ve now read a couple other books recently, and all her characters are always distinctive and real. In Forever she writes in a tight first person present. This drops you nicely inside the head of the narrator, but she doesn’t overdo the interior monologue (which I find tedious). There is none of the snarky-boy-crazy quality of so many current voices, just a very real teenager. Also, having grown up in the 70’s, I loved the subtle nostalgic flavor of suburban 70’s life. The book is never preachy, and despite the fact that absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happens, holds your interest through every word. The sex is frank and quite funny, using a clever device to soften it. You’ll know when you meet Ralph. Basically it just sticks your head right into this little slice of life, particular person, time and place, and holds it there for about two hours.
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