Friday, March 22, 2013

Just as Long as We're Together

1987, 1988 Yearling edition
Judy Blume
Just as Long as We're Together
Possibly bought newish for $3.50
Very worn paperback

At the time this book came out, I was older than Katherine in Forever, and it's possible that I didn't even read it till my 20s.  As such, I have no nostalgia for it, and I find that it's not even as interesting a glimpse of the '80s as Paula Danziger's two "Woodstock" books.  Yes, the main character, 12-year-old Stephanie, sleeps with a Richard Gere poster over her bed, and there are some references to '80s fashion and hair, as well as a subplot of her kid brother (10 years old but coming across more as 8) having nightmares about nuclear war, but otherwise it's pretty vague.  The RL (reading level) is 4.9 and the interest level is 8 to 12, and yet the book talks about body hair, menarche, "making out," "sexual experience," divorce, and adultery, so it's definitely more of a preteen book than one for 8-year-olds.

I thought the first half of the book was weaker than the second half and, despite the title, the friendship aspect is the least well done.  Part of the problem is that, although I can see similarities between myself and smart perfectionist Rachel, she's pretty unsympathetic, without any of the endearing qualities of Hermione Granger.  In fact, I thought that Stephanie's other best friend, Alison, was going to be a sort of Luna Lovegood, since she's introduced as weird and barefoot, but she turns out to be a giggly "popular" girl.  Stephanie's own characterization is inconsistent, since she claims to be an optimist but spends the entire book worrying (except about nuclear war).

There are some cute moments, but the story feels forgettable compared to Blume's '70s books, and I don't think that's just generational bias.  Nonetheless, I went on to buy Here's to You, Rachel Robinson, which is coming up in 1993.

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