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Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

Judy Blume's novel Forever … has not received much literary attention over the years. But this book has drawn considerable social criticism, and as a result, it is often banned. The frank discussion of sex in this novel has made it controversial. Jennifer Frey, writing for the Los Angeles Times, comments on Blume's wide readership: "Blume's work may be better known for popular appeal than critical acclaim; she's had mixed reviews, but her 23 books have sold more than 75 million copies worldwide." Frey adds: "'Forever' was the book passed around among friends in their teens, each reading it surreptitiously under the bedcovers, sure that its subject matter—a girl's first experience with love and sex—was something parents would label contraband." The reason for Blume's popularity, according to Frey is that "Blume made sense of things in simple, familiar terms. The world she wrote about felt real."

Cautioning regarding the age appropriateness of this novel, a parent in Illinois, according to Rick Margolis, writing for School Library Journal, "believed the book's sexual content, obscene language, and drug references to be inappropriate for middle schoolers." A tenth-grader in favor of Blume's Forever …, according to Beverly Goldberg, writing for American Libraries, declared: "Judy Blume did not write the book to be a dirty piece of smut." The book appears on library shelves or disappears from those shelves, depending on the numbers either in favor or against it and concerns about the age of its readers.

In 2004, Blume was honored for her life's work with the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Affirming that contribution, Jennifer Goldblatt, writing for the New York Times

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