It started in our school with a whisper. We were told by our teacher, “Forever” is not an appropriate book for an eighth grader to be reading.” I only knew two girls that had read it, and neither was a friend of mine. Then two copies began to circulate. Then there were four. Before long, Blume’s Novel, which tells the story of first love, first sex, and ultimately first broken heart, had been ready by nearly every girl (and quite a few boys who would never admit it) in the eight grade. Not bad for a book that was already 18 years old!
And why did we read it? Well, first it was because we were told not to. But had the book been a flop, the word would have traveled prettey quickly. Really, we read Forever because we had to.
We were girls and boys that were having problems that our parents refused to recognize, didn’t have the time to worry about, or were so uncomfortable discussing them that we needed a surrogate. We needed someone to tell our story as young people–in a way that would make capture the unspeakables. Forever did that for us.
Enter the first annual Judy Blume Award for Young Adult Literature. Over the past year, thanks in no short part to my school’s excellent librarian, I have been diving into the world of young adult literature. What I discovered was an array of books that deal with real-world issues in realistic ways.
For that reason, and because I love her so much, I want to recognize those novels in young adult literature that emulate that same intensity, that same trustfulness as Forever did during my eighth grade year.
The first Judy Blume Award for Young Adult Literature goes to After by Amy Efaw.
Synopsis: Certainly not someone like Devon—straight-A student, soccer player with Olympic dreams, more mature than her own mother. But desperation and panic drove her to do what most people can’t even imagine. Now Devon’s in a juvenile detention center charged with attempted murder. If she’s tried as an adult, she faces life in prison. Does Devon deserve that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story.
After was the first young adult book I’d read in a while, and I wasn’t expecting much. In my mind, there wasn’t anything I could learn from revisiting the turbulent teens. Efaw’s writing style however is really beyond words; to say it was captivating is an understatement. As you read, you begin to see Devon’s life for what it is: a complicated mesh of high expectations and emotional disarray.
where the ending is made by Disneyland. She’s getting older. I want her to start thinking about issues that she will be confronted with in the real world, and Efaw’s book will put her right in the middle of it.
Every time I took a break from reading, my daughter picked the book up. Two days after it was in our house, my daughter came home with her own copy of the book. Over the few days, we had strong, real conversations. Abortion, birth control, sex. Efaw’s novel
provides rich conversation for parents who are fearless enough to recognize the facts:
. kids have sex, kids get pregnant–and kids make choices that they can’t always take back
If you have preteen girls, this novel really needs to be added to your daughter’s personal library. I urge you to grab a copy and read it for yourself first. The diction is high, and as a parent I had to ask probing questions, create scenario’s for discussion, and really flush out what was happening to Devon in the novel as a result of her choices.
Book Synopsis taken from http://www.after-book.com/.