Book Review: Forever

Forever

Judy Blume

Simon Pulse

208 pages

I am enjoying the Shelf Discovery challenge probably more than any other reading challenge I have ever participated in.  Many of the participants are using the challenge as an excuse to read books that they haven’t read since their childhood.  Ultimately, I’m not a re-reader, so instead I am using the challenge to read childhood books that I missed out on.  As you saw a few weeks ago with my review of Wifey, I missed out on a few of Judy Blume’s books despite the fact that I was a big fan of hers as an adolescent.  When I joined the challenge, Forever and Wifey went on my list immediately because I had never read them and I don’t know that I would have ever had as good of an excuse to read them now. 

Forever is the story of Katherine.  She is a senior in high school and a virgin.  She has had a boyfriend before, but she broke up with him after he pressured her to have sex with him.  Since that point, Katherine’s interest in prospective boyfriends and sex has dwindled until she meets Michael, a senior from another school.  Emotionally, Katherine and Michael’s relationship seems to develop at a fast pace.  Katherine is still guarded sexually though, and it takes her awhile to trust Michael enough to have sex with him. 

I thought Forever perfectly encapsulated the typical high school relationship.  What teenage girl thinks that she won’t marry her high school boyfriend and live happily ever after?  I know I was guilty of it! Katherine and Michael had a fairly strong relationship and were very respectful of one another, but the relationship fizzled out on Katherine’s end when she went away to summer camp to work as a tennis instructor.  She met another boy at camp and at first they were just friendly with one another and then the relationship started evolving to the point where Katherine realized she had feelings for the boy.  She is caught in a tug of war because she loves Michael and doesn’t want to hurt him or the relationship they have, but at the same time she no longer feels the same way towards him. 

Forever evoked all these long forgotten emotions that I had from high school.  I don’t think I have ever read a book geared towards adolescents that is as realistic as this one.  Katherine’s feelings from beginning to end were very much like the feelings I had in high school.  I imagine it takes a lot for a book to take you back ten years in time, and that is what Forever did for me. 

I think Katherine did have her flaws, however.  She seemed so naïve and innocent about sex which I couldn’t believe of a senior in high school.  I am not referring to the fact that she was a virgin, but just her attitude towards sex and her body in general.  On the other hand, she is grown up enough to go to Planned Parenthood on her own and get put on birth control pills.  Something about her character just didn’t flow for me in that sense.

Regardless, Forever is a book you should read if you’re a fan of Judy Blume.  Or even if you’re not familiar with Judy Blume (although I’m not sure how that could be possible!).  I also think Forever is a great book for teenagers because the perspective is realistic enough that it conveys a powerful message.

I read this book for the Shelf Discovery challenge.

Other Reviews:

Books Love Me

Rhapsody in Books Weblog

The Book Lady’s Blog

Zoe’s Book Reviews

The Bluestocking Society

Persnickety Snark

Stop, Drop & Read

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

another page is used

It’s All About Me (Time)

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Wifey

Wifey

Judy Blume

Berkley Trade

304 pages

Judy Blume was one of my all time favorite authors as an adolescent.  I started off with the Fudge books and as I got older, moved onto Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret and Deenie.  However, there it stopped.  I was aware at some point that Blume had written a few adult books, but I never read them.  Maybe I was afraid that Blume wouldn’t be able to reach an adult reader.  But then I found the Shelf Discovery challenge, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama, and one of the books mentioned in there was Wifey.

Wifey is the story of Sandy Pressman; a younger mother dealing with the monotony of marriage during the 1960s.  She is married to Norm Pressman, a straight laced guy that is difficult to talk to and who prefers sleeping in his own twin bed.  It’s summertime and Sandy ’s two children are away at camp, so she is alone all day while Norm is at work.  She attempts to involve herself in the country club, but becomes more and more distant as the summer goes on.  She is unhappy in her marriage and eventually strays numerous times (some of the men she chose to bed really shocked me due to Sandy ’s lack of boundaries), most notably with her old flame.  Wifey is mainly about Sandy ’s exploration of her marriage and sexuality and how she comes to terms with the life she chose for herself.

This book is much more sexually explicit than I would have imagined.  Obviously, when you’re dealing with a marriage, sex is going to be an important factor.  It seemed that most of Sandy ’s issues with Norm were related to sex.  I think for Sandy , the lack of sexual satisfaction just kept eating away at her until she was unable to finding any positive aspect with her marriage.  She went through quite a few sexual encounters over the summer that Wifey focused on, and she realized that having an erotic relationship with other men didn’t feel that void that she had in her marriage.  Once she got her that aspect of her marriage worked out with Norm, it seemed like everything else in her marriage fell into place.

The time period had a lot to do with why Sandy felt trapped and had such problems with her marriage.  Much like Blume herself, she was pressured into marrying young and having children.  She never really got any freedom, sexually or otherwise, so as her marriage got more and more routine, she became listless and was infected with “the grass is always greener” syndrome. In that respect, I feel like Norm took the brunt of the blame.  He wasn’t a particularly likeable character—very dry and one-dimensional—but I have a feeling that was just Sandy’s perception of him at the time and didn’t necessarily reflect what type of person and husband Norm was.

I would say Blume’s adolescent tendencies shine through—Wifey is maybe a bit more simplistic than other novels dealing with the same subject matter.  At the same time, it made the book much more readable, so it wasn’t a detractor at all.  I read the entire book in one sitting and was completely engaged the entire time.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book.  I think there were parts that were a little too raunchy, but I keep asking myself if I was just put off because of who the author is.  If it were an author I were unfamiliar with, would the sexual scenes still bother me?  Probably not.  If you are a fan of Judy Blume, you can’t miss this one.

Stop on over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog to enter her Judy Blume/Shelf Discovery mini challenge.

Other Reviews:

Crazy-for-books.com

You’ve GOTTA read this!

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Sunday Salon

I’m sure I am not the only one snowed in right now.  So much for spring coming early this year!  We got an absolute ridiculous amount of snow over the course of Friday and Saturday.  So much so that my boss sent me home from work at noon Friday.  I decided that was the perfect opportunity to lay in bed and read.  I kid you not when I say I read all afternoon Friday and pretty much all day yesterday.  It was heavenly!

So this week I read the following:

-finished The Gathering, by Anne Enright

-read the second portion of East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

-Eating the Dinosaur, by Chuck Klosterman

-Wifey, by Judy Blume

-half of Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts, by Penny Colman

Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts is my first DNF in awhile.  I liked it at first–it is a history of burial.  After reading a book on New Orleans cemeteries, I decided I wanted to delve deeper into the topic of cemeteries, burials, etc.  So I checked this book out of my library.  And there was some good stuff in there!  It talked about being buried alive (can you imagine?!).  One man even had his tomb rigged with a buzzer to the caretaker’s cottage in the event that he woke up after being buried.  The buzzer never rang (except for one false alarm) and has since been disconnected.

So what happened, you may ask?  Two things.

-The book went off on too many tangents.  I am not interested in burial since the beginning of time.  This is my problem, not that of the author really, but I think it could have been organized a bit better.

-It wasn’t very well researched.  There were no resources noted and the author included a lot of things she heard from other people.  Meaning she would describe a burial place that her friend saw.  It just didn’t seem viable.  Which leads me to my biggest problem . . . I actually found an instance where the author was dead wrong.  It had to do with New Orleans cemeteries.  Twice, she noted that burials in New Orleans take place above ground because of flooding (this is a common fallacy, and it may be partially true, so I could have forgiven that) and she went on to say that all burials in New Orleans take place above ground. This is completely false.  There are quite a few cemeteries in New Orleans that are almost 100% underground burials.  At that point, I decided, since I know little about burials, that the author could be bamboozling me on some other points as well.  So I gave up.

I am very happy to say, however, that I finished books for two separate challenges this week!  I finished The Gathering towards the beginning of the week, which counts towards The Complete Man Booker Challenge.  And then I read Wifey, for the Shelf Discovery challenge.  I finally feel like I am making the tiniest bit of headway towards my current challenges!

I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done today, since all my household chores fell by the wayside the past two days as I read myself into a stupor, but I hope to start The Women, by TC Boyle, before the day is through.  I hope everyone else has a wonderful Sunday!

Book Review: My Darling, My Hamburger

My Darling, My Hamburger

Paul Zindel

HarperTeen

163 pages

I want to issue a spoiler alert right off the bat.  This is a very compact novel with a big social issue smack in the middle, so I feel like I can’t complete a proper review without discussing said issue.  So if you plan on reading this book and want to be completely surprised, I would skip over this review.

For starters, My Darling, My Hamburger deals with teenage issues.  What is amazing is the fact that this book is still relevant, considering it was first published in 1969 (not to mention that the author is a man who was born in 1936!).  It is the story of two sets of high school sweethearts; Liz and Sean are more of the cool kids in school who seem to be more sure of themselves, although they each are privately dealing with insecurities.  Then you have Maggie and Dennis.  Maggie is your typical geek, although she is wiser and more comfortable in her own skin than her peers.  Unfortunately, she is also a pushover.  She and Dennis have been going on a few dates with one another because Sean and Liz set them up.

Being that the couples are in high school, sex turns out to play a major role.  Maggie is so scared of intimacy that she cannot even allow Dennis to kiss her.  However, she is able to stick to her guns and not do anything that she feels uncomfortable with.  Liz, on the other hand, gives into the pressure she feels from Sean to have sex.  Within a few months, Liz is pregnant.

At first, Sean blurts out that he will marry Liz when they graduate the following month and they can have the baby.  Unfortunately for Liz, Sean ends up having a change of heart.  Although Liz is absolutely gutted by this fact, it was hard to fault Sean because he made what seemed like a reasonable decision.  Liz decides she cannot have the baby on her own, so she is forced to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

We’re talking before Roe v Wade here, so Liz ends up having a “back alley” abortion, from which she suffers severe hemorrhaging, making it necessary for Maggie to call Liz’s parents and thus alienating their friendship forever.

I decided to read this book for the Shelf Discovery challenge.  To be honest, I had never heard of this book until skimming Shelf Discovery—I had decided to read only books that were new to me, no re-reads, and this one seemed interesting.  Having now read it, I think it was a good choice and I only wish I had heard of it when I actually was a teenager.  As I said previously, My Darling, My Hamburger is mostly relevant, considering when it was written.  I haven’t heard of an instance of a back alley abortion being performed in years (although I guess in most cases you wouldn’t know about it!), however back alley abortions were still performed even after Roe v Wade.  Take the case of Becky Bell, for example.

Even so, the novel explores issues that teenagers still deal with today—relationships, intimacy, pregnancy.  I was skeptical when picking up the book that a man born in the time frame that Zindel was born in could possibly grasp the situations that teenagers may find themselves in.  Sure, he was young once, but that didn’t stop me from having my doubts.  I needn’t have worried though.  Zindel did a wonderful job and hit the nail on the head with this one.

I read this book as a part of the Shelf Discovery challenge.

Other reviews:

Mode a la Pie

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly meme hosted by Marg and Eva.

I braved the Black Friday crowds this morning to venture out to my library.  It is in a strip mall, so the area was pretty crazy, but I had holds to pick up–what is a girl to do?! :)

The first two books are for the Shelf Discovery challenge hosted by Booking Mama.  The other two are books I got “just because”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which ones have you read?  Let me know what you thought of them!!

 

Shelf Discovery Reading Challenge

shelfdiscoverytilead

Yes, you read it right–I am joining another challenge.  I can’t help it–this one looks like so much fun.  It is based on the book Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, by Lizzie Skurnick.  The goal is to read six books mentioned in the memoir between November 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010.  The challenge is being hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

I picked up Shelf Discovery this afternoon at the library and I’ve already chosen which books I want to read.  They are:

The Grounding of Group 6, Julian F Thompson

Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers, Cynthia Voight

The Endless First Steppe: A Girl in Exile, Esther Hautzig

Jane-Emily, Patricia Clapp

Forever, Judy Blume

Happy Endings are all Alike, Sandra Scoppettone

Wifey, Judy Blume

My Darling, My Hamburger, Paul Zindel

As you can see, that is eight titles.  I amy read them all or I may just choose six.  Or I may not be able to find all of them, in which case it will be good that I have a few extras on the list.

So who else has joined this challenge?  What are you reading?

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