Forever Readalong: The Discussion

Badge for Forever Readalong

It’s the end of the Forever readalong. Here are a few questions to springboard the discussion, kindly provided by MWK.

-When you were reading, did you find yourself agreeing with Katherine’s parents perspective, or hers? (re: not getting to serious, going to work at camp)?

– Why do you think that Forever is still so controversial? (or: do you find the subject matter controversial?)

– Thoughts on the ending: devastated, or glad that Blume kept it real?

– Is Katherine similar to young women today? How? How not?

What did you think of the book? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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5 Responses to Forever Readalong: The Discussion

  1. thebumbles says:

    #1 – I agreed with each of them at different times. I disagreed with the parents wanting their daughter to date lots of different people – I think I would prefer my child having a more serious/stable relationship with someone that I knew and involved in my family as opposed to them seeing a different kid every night – more partners to worry about! But I agreed with them getting their daughter some separation for herself with a job at camp doing something she enjoyed that would probably look good on future applications. It was a little harsh cutting off her limited summer time with her boyfriend before going away to school, but better to get used to time apart now.

    #2 – Is it still controversial? I suppose it would be thought that way for having real issues being experienced by real teenage characters in graphic detail. But honestly, these days kids are exposed to so much more so much earlier through TV/music/movies/ads and society in general. I think the more controversial thing to me was how open her family was in general. I don’t think I’d be comfortable knowing my kid was probably having sex in my den while I was upstairs. Some of the trusting boundaries here were too loosey goosey.

    #3 – I thought the ending was a little cheesy. She just moves on to the next perfect guy? Didn’t even try to see if the original relationship was worth an effort? Not disappointed or sad about it – just surprised that after having such an honest and communicative partnership, they broke up in two minutes without going into any details.

    #4 – I have no clue! I don’t know any of today’s teen girls personally. I hope that today’s young women are like Katherine in many ways. I hope that they feel it is their responsibility to not get pregnant while still a young adult – whether by remaining a virgin through their teens or by researching and obtaining appropriate birth control. I also hope they feel they can talk to their parents or other trusted adults about questions they have on morals, emotions and physical consequences. Katherine seemed extremely responsible to me for someone her age. She took sex super seriously which is something most girls either don’t care to do or don’t think they have the option to do.

    I haven’t read a YA in a loooong time so it took me a while to get adjusted to reading from the perspective of a teen. Once I got past that hump though, I was able to go along for the ride and try to look at it from my former teen self’s POV rather than that of a 40+ year old woman. It sure brought back memories and made me glad I never have to go through any of that stuff again!!!

    Thanks for getting me to read outside of the box :0)

  2. MWK says:

    Ha ha, thebumbles, your answer to # 2 makes me laugh (in a nice way) because that is so, so how my family actually was. Except that my mom took me to get birth control instead of my getting it by myself. I count myself as extremely lucky that I had such a trusting environment and a mom I could go to about that stuff. It really made a difference (and I totally took the sex decision very seriously). Sorry if I’m being too TMI!

    I am sorta with you on # 1 – I didn’t know why they wanted her to date more people. I definitely identified with Katherine on the camp, though, only cause I would have been SO. PISSED if my parents had done that.

  3. jehara says:

    I felt the ending was a little abrupt. I thought it was realistic that she was attracted to someone else at camp, but the absence of discussion when she tried to be honest with Michael about it threw me off. But then again, his character didn’t want to discuss it. She was trying to. I suppose I was surprised that after a few days when they had time to let the emotions simmer down they didn’t revisit the conversation.

    I did find it strange that the parents were encouraging her to date different people, but I think they were more freaked about her getting serious before college and letting that affect her college decisions. My dad was kind of like that. I started seeing someone at the beginning of my senior year and it was more serious than previous boyfriends. My dad told me that he wouldn’t pay for my college if I decided to stay at home instead of the out of state colleges I had applied to.

    My dad was very open with me during my adolescence about sex. He was sort of ad nauseum about it. He made it very clear to me that the decision was my own but I needed to come to him if I decided I was going to take that step so he could take me to get birth control. I also took sex very seriously as a teenager. I was freaked out about the enormity of it and freaked out about getting pregnant. I appreciated my dad’s honesty and trust in me. It made me feel more comfortable in making my own decisions.

  4. kaye says:

    I thought you meant “Ramona Forever” *hahaha* so I read that book and enjoyed it very much. Ramona is a great character to revisit at any age. I did go to the Library (at Molly’s urging) and picked up “Forever” but after reading the first couple of pages and scanning the book I put it aside. So I’m glad I purchased “Ramona Forever” by accident to read instead. I know my grandchildren can get on my kindle and I don’t have to worry about them getting hold of a book with too much information in it.

    I was actually in High School when this book was published. In my small, conservative, religious community it was not well recieved and was very controversial. I never actually looked for it in the library so I couldn’t tell you if it was available or not. I just remember that all of the parents I knew were pretty upset over it.

    My opinion is that parents should moniter children’s reading choices as well as programming on television to make sure what they are reading and viewing are age appropriate. Sometimes children will see “glimpses” of sex or hear sexual inuendo’s in a program but I think for the most part they don’t really catch it until their sexual maturity kicks in and then they start asking questions about what they saw or heard. Catching glimpses in a program doesn’t really tell you how to have sex, but a book like “Forever” is like giving kids a how to manual. The cover is innocent looking, it can be checked out at the public library and the author is a well-known children’s author that parents have trusted for years. It all seems so “OK” and “ordinary”. I think a book like this gives kids the message that having sex while you are a teenager is what you should do. I personally don’t believe kids that age are emotionally ready to handle the depth of commitment that sex creates between two people. A young person might say they are just having casual sex but in reality there is no such thing. If a person is having sex–they are in a committed relationship and even if they leave that relationship there is no way to escape the emotional and occassional physical baggage (like a baby) that comes with a failed relationship–it doesn’t feel any different than experiencing a failed marriage.

    If a parent chooses to use this book as a teaching tool and reads and discusses it with their child I think that would be appropriate. The author, Judy Blume, suggests the same. You can read her remarks about the book on her website.

    As always–I love discussing things with you quirky gals–I hope you don’t mind my little speech from atop my soap box 🙂

    • jehara says:

      I always appreciate your comments, Kaye! I can definitely see how the book could be controversial. I do think it is a great vehicle for parents and children to use to jumpstart the conversation and appreciate where JB was coming from when she wrote it. I love that she wrote it at her daughter’s request, and that she intends it to be a conversation starter between parents and children.

      I agree that sex is big decision, and can rarely be casual. Even casual sex usually breeds attachment and feelings, which can be confusing as an adolescence.
      When I was a teen sex was big and scary and it felt really good to be able to talk to my dad about it. He sort of took the reverse psychology approach. He didn’t condone it, but he let me know that he knew it was ultimately my decision. My dad ultimately did not want me to become pregnant in high school so he made sure that I had all of the information I needed. And knowing my dad wanted me to come to him for birth control if I did decide to become sexually active was a very effective barometer. I already knew that I wasn’t ready at fifteen to be so intimate. I also had read enough stories about boys using girls so I didn’t want to be one of those. I wanted to be in a serious relationship with someone I loved before I took that step. And knowing my dad trusted me kept me from making a mistake. By the time I did go to my dad, I was eighteen and just shy of graduating.

      I know there were a lot of kids in my school growing up that couldn’t talk to their parents and were pretty much clueless, which led to some unfortunate circumstances. I think we all mature at different rates and for some people they can handle it at sixteen, and others can’t. But if we can talk to our children about our values and the responsibilities that come with this choice, we’d all be better off.

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