Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. Are you guys ready to go back to the future? Or more accurately, look back to a YA classic? Cos if my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit.
[Quick side note about Back To The Future — caution, it will make you feel OOOOLD while it blows yr mind: so I realized the other day that the 1st movie went from 1985 30 yrs back in the past to 1955. And in 5 YEARS they could make THE SAME MOVIE, but go back THIRTY YEARS TO 1985! HOLY FLUX CAPACITOR, Batman]
I like to call this photo Junior Prom 1983: 6 Months Later OR Juno, You Just WISH You Looked This Rad. My husband and I had an 80s party to go to (OBVS this is not how I normally dress, cos a denim mini and leggings should NEVER be seen on a preggo lady in normal circumstances) and we totally looked like we were still in high school. So I started thinking, what would I be reading if this WAS 1983? And the answer is totally obvious: Forever … by Judy Blume. Y’all, this book is EPIC and a classic. It came out in 1975 and it’s one of the most banned (and celebrated) YA books ever (in fact, it was so controversial that in the 1975 edition, the author bio says it’s Blume’s first novel for adults. Um, yeah right, here at FYA we like to call that COVER YOUR ASS).
Y’all, S.E. Hinton might be credited with the first YA book ever (The Outsiders), and while she’s TOTALLY gold, when I think of the queen mother of YA I think of Judy Blume. No other author wrote so much and so accurately about the angst-ridden thoughts of teenage girls (will our braces get stuck together when we kiss?!? Will I EVER need a bra? [Sorry, hon, not if you’re me.] And most importantly, should we do IT?). I mean, she set the STAGE for Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen and Sara Zarr among many others.
Ok, on with it.
This book is pretty simple. As you can tell from the cover of the 1975 ed., it’s all about S-E-X. Kath meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party and they start dating, making out and Michael’s totally hot to get in Kath’s pants. She’s totes interested, but it’s a huge decision and she seems to be the only one who realizes it. Sex, love and forever — heavy shizz, man.
BFF Charm: Yay
Kath gets my bff charm — she’s so much like so many teenage girls trying to figure out if sex is a big deal, WHY it’s a big deal and what are the consequences (besides STDs and pregnancy, obvs). She’s also a good girl. She’s sweet to her little sister, she tries hard in school, she likes her parents (her parents are totally rad, by the way), she wants to be independent and make her own mistakes. She doesn’t whine (YAY!) OR want babies (MAJOR bonus — what’s the DEAL with that in YA lit lately?), and she’s honest with herself. Plus, at the end, you just know she’s going to be awesome forever.
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
What? Only an 8? For a book that’s all about DOING IT, a book so much about S-E-X that it has a rumpled, unmade BED on the front cover? Y’all, that’s because Michael is DOUCHY MCDOUCHERTON, aka a high school boy. And while we swoon over high school boys a lot around this joint, none of them are really very much like most high school boys. But Michael totally is — I could NOT see what the attraction was, and all he wanted to do was get laid (AND HE NAMED HIS PENIS. He named it RALPH. There aren’t big enough or bold enough capital letters to express my horror at this character flaw). Cher Horowitz def. had it right when she didn’t even waste her time thinking about high school boys (Plus, um, Elton or Josh? Like, DUH!). BUT there’s lots of sexy business in this book, and it’s written pretty explicitly, and (without spoilers for those of you who’ve never experienced this book) there’s a development at the end that has serious panty-melting potential.
Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit
I don’t really think i need to explain or justify this, cos Judy Blume INVENTED wonderfully accurate teen-speak. All the angst and thoughts and confusion and jitters of first love and gaining experience and going farther than you’ve gone before are there, and so dead on.
Bonus Factor: Banned 4 Life
Forever was #7 on the American Library Association’s most challenged books from 1990-1999. And that’s just ONE DECADE. Judy Blume is one of the most banned authors EVER. So of course the book must be awesome, right? At least if you’re thinking like a 15-yr-old. and what better way to combat censorship than to totally ignore it and read this book?
Bonus Factor: Kickass Gram
Kath’s grandmother is a lawyer and Planned Parenthood activist and helps her make informed decisions about sex and is totally non-judgmental and supportive without being crazy and reckless.
Relationship Status: Forever
I don’t think this book will EVER get old. I mean, it’s as awesome 35 years later as I’m sure it was when it was first published — it still gets read, it still causes controversy, it still makes girls blush and feel not so alone. For a really great article about it and how relevant it still is, go here.
FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own review copy. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Forever… is available now.