Forever

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Banned Books #16 – Forever by Judy Blume

Published October 26, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year’s Eve party. They’re attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they’ve decided their love is forever, they make love.

It’s the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine’s parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart…

“Forever” is written for an older age group than Judy Blume’s other novels for children. It caused a storm of controversy when it was first published because of its explicit sexual content.

It was a book ahead of its time – and remains, after thirty years in print, a teenage best-seller. America’s No. 1 children’s author has written some of the best books of our time about real-life issues – family stress and pressures, what happens when your parents divorce, the problems of growing up and sexual awakening, bereavement – with insight, sensitivity and honesty.

The response of readers all around the world continues to make her one of the best-loved writers ever published.

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Welcome to our tenth book of 2015 and the sixteenth book in our series of Banned/Challenged Books. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. This is what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2015 – the post will go out on the last Monday of each month so if you’d like to read along with us, you are more than welcome.

NOVEMBER

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Chosen by : Chrissi

DECEMBER

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month….

Forever by Judy Blume

First published: 1975
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2005 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, sexual content.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I am finding this really tricky! The reason is that Judy Blume is one of my book goddesses and her books helped me so much in childhood and adolescence. Okay, so this book was first published in the seventies and it is quite sexually explicit. Okay, VERY sexually explicit. I was part of the generation in the 1990’s that passed round a copy of this book under our desks in the classroom and hid it from the parents. Back in the seventies I can understand why this book was challenged. I can’t remember if there was ever a book before then that tackled sex in such an honest, no holds barred way and so was bound to raise a few eyebrows.

CHRISSI: I can understand why it was banned, especially for young adults back in the seventies. I personally never read it when it was hugely popular in the 90s. I remember my mum telling me I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to read it. For some reason, I didn’t go against her wishes. Such a good girl. I was always intrigued about the content, so I was pleased that it was picked for our banned books feature.

How about now?

BETH: If we are talking about school settings I really can’t see this book being taught in a classroom except by a very progressive teacher and even then, I still think there would be complaints. If we’re talking about the book being stocked in the school library then yes, I personally think it should. As I mentioned above, it shows sex in a real way and I think Katherine is a terrific role model for not rushing into anything and making sure she was certain herself before she started having a sexual relationship with Michael. I think teenagers would relate to it and it gives honest information that may satisfy curiosity and stop young adults from jumping into bed with just anyone. As Judy Blume rightly puts it, once you’ve done it, you can’t go back to just holding hands. So you have to be one hundred percent sure and not feel rushed or pressured into anything. (am climbing down off my soapbox now, honest!)

CHRISSI: I can’t imagine it ever being taught in the classroom. Not without complaints! Jeez, some parents complain about Roald Dahl in the primary school classroom, so I can just imagine what Forever would bring! I do think, like Beth, that this book should be in libraries and be recommended to teenagers/young adults in Personal, Social and Health Education. It brings with it, some important messages about relationships and consent. Katherine comes across as incredibly savvy and sensible. I really liked her!

What did you think of this book?

BETH: Seriously? This book brought back so many memories for me and reading it as an adult was a very different experience. I recognised the intensity and pressure of the first serious relationship where you think you’re in love but you’ve still got a hell of a lot to learn. It’s strange, but reading it now I’m in my thirties, I related to Katherine’s parents a lot more and was surprised to discover that I felt Michael was being a bit too pushy, sexually speaking whereas twenty years ago I was firmly in the teenager’s corner! Nevertheless, the book will always be special to me as I learned so much from it and may even pass it down to a teenager myself, when I feel the time is right.

CHRISSI: Eek. This is where I hide from my Blume lovin’ sister. I liked Forever, but I don’t love it. I think I’ve just got a huge place in my heart for the Blubber Judy Blume, and her style of writing in Forever just didn’t work for me as much as I wanted it to. It was enjoyable enough and I whizzed through it. I believe there are better YA books out there around the same topic, but hoorah for Judy Blume writing so explicitly for the YA audience in the 70s! You have to commend her for that!

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

BETH’s personal star rating:

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Join us again on the last Monday of November when we will be discussing Chrissi’s choice of banned book, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

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Books Are My Bag – My Bookish Life So Far…

Published September 14, 2013 by bibliobeth

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Books Are My Bag is a nationwide celebration of bookshops, calling on all bookworms to purchase a book from their local bookshop on Saturday 14th September,especially as so many of our beloved shops are under threat. So now I am the proud owner of a Books Are My Bag tote bag courtesy of Waterstones Wimbledon branch, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on My Bookish Life So Far in order to shout out about all things book-related.

Early childhood – Teddy, Timmy the dog, School stories and A Big, Friendly Giant

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This was my very first book! And as dear to me as when I first read it. My mum taught me to read at a very early age (Thanks Mum!) and she always tells the story of when I was at kindergarten and my teacher pulled my mum into a corner for a quiet word. Apparently, I had got a bunch of kids around me and was reading them a story. The teacher thought I was making the story up for the children as I was so young, yet she was shocked that I was reading the actual words. So she spoke to my mum saying: “Do you know your daughter can read?!” My mum replied: “Er…yes, I taught her!”

The books I loved as a child were mainly Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl based – I adored The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and The Malory Towers series from Blyton and The BFG and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Dahl. My all-time favourite book from this time though has to be House at The Corner by Enid Blyton. I read it so many times as a child that it was literally falling apart, but I would refuse to be parted from it.

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The Teenage Years – Horror, and some saucy stuff from Blume

As a teenager, I remember being absolutely obsessed with the Point Horror and Christopher Pike books, which were probably easing me in to my current obsession with my favourite author Stephen King. I had to have them all, and would devour them in a matter of hours.

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Another fond memory from my adolescent reading are novels from Judy Blume, whom I idolised. Other girls of my age must remember passing around “Forever” at school, and being delighted, horrified and curious at the same time?

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The Twenties – Thrills, chills, the King and Historical Fiction

Ah, I discover Stephen KIng! I have a whole shelf devoted to him, and he remains one of my favourite authors today.

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For anyone who has never read him, I highly recommend The Green Mile, The Shining, and It as fantastic reads and a great introduction to his works. During this time I was also reading a lot of thrillers, namely Dean Koontz and James Patterson, and discovered a love of historical fiction a la Philippa Gregory. Her Tudor novels are wonderfully written, and hey… you might even learn a little something?

The Early Thirties – I become a blogger, my reading tastes diversify and my books multiply!

My love for books has only got stronger through the years, and I now read a wide range of material, including non-fiction. I started a blog in January of this year, and I have loved submitting reviews, attending events like The Hay Festival, and “meeting” other bookworms like myself. I listen to a variety of podcasts to keep updated on all literary events, including Books On The Nightstand, A Good Read (Radio 4), Open Book (Radio 4) and Guardian Books. I also love my Kindle, which can store hundreds of books (without the added weight) and find it essential for any sort of commute.

Warning – book buying can turn obsessive and compulsive and you may end up with shelves like these:

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So, how do I see my bookish future? I hope to be still reading a range of material, and enjoying the printed word as much as I do at the moment. Even with the advances in technology, I strongly feel that there is nothing like going into a bookshop, enjoying the sight and smells, purchasing something that catches your eye, and enjoying the journey that it takes you on.

Support your local bookshop! Make books YOUR bag!