Publication Date: 1975 (!!!)
Publisher: Mac Millan
Source: Purchased copy
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Katherine and Michael meet on New Year's Eve and their attraction is instantaneous. Completely involved with each other, filled with all the wonder of "the first time," they are blissfully unaware of the complications real love presents. When they are separated that summer and Katherine meets someone new, she faces a dilemma. Is her love for Michael merely a stepping-stone to a world of passion and discovery? Or the kind of love that lasts a lifetime?
I was so excited to pick up this book in Easons for just eight euro! This is the 40th anniversary special edition of this novel and the book even has red sprayed edges!
This is a novel my mum has been recommending to me for ages. She introduced me to Judy Blume when I was eleven, I read the classics Blubber and Are You There God? It's Me Margaret at the right times for them to be poignant and make me as big a fan of Judy Blume as my mum had been as a teenager.
One common thing I've noticed from peoples accounts of reading this novel as a teen is that the novel was held in high regard by teenage girls at the time as one of the only novels available with realistic accounts of sex and first love. The subject matter was controversial at the time but is less so now.
The realistic descriptions of first love and first sexual relationship were wonderfully written. The novel shows our teenage protagonist, Katherine, being mentally and emotionally mature enough to engage in sexual intercourse. The sex in the novel is not portrayed in a negative or shameful way, it is a positive experience for Katherine and her boyfriend. They talk freely about sex and are not embarrassed. The novel shows the sexual aspect to her relationship with her boyfriend as a natural and positive part of their relationship which would have been an uncommon theme for literature written at this time.
Another aspect of the novel I really enjoyed was the way the love unfolds in the story. Love is unknown territory for Katherine and when she meets Michael at a party she falls for him. What follows is a head over heels, loving and clingy relationship which is common for first love. The timeline of their dating is also not sugar coated or rose tinted in any way. They meet, begin dating, fall in love, have sex, grow apart, break up and move on. This is a lot more realistic than the obsessive relationships we sometimes read about and I enjoyed their healthy break up and the fact they could talk normally a couple months after.
Although I did find some of the novel dated, it was mostly the background of the novel and the unimportant stuff, for example Michael playing his records etc., When reading the novel, I expected to fall in love with Michael as Katherine did, but honestly I did not like Michael at all and couldn't find any likeable qualities to him apart from the fact he is loyal to Katherine.
I also really enjoyed the sub plot of the novel with Katherine's friend dating Michael's friend Archie, who is struggling with his understanding his sexuality and I would have loved to read another novel about his story!
Overall an honest depiction of first love, first time having sex and first heartbreak. Judy Blume's skill for writing captivating and memorable novels is evident in this modern classic. Highly recommend this novel to older teenagers and adults. This is a novel I will definitely pass on and re-read in the future.