I'm so glad that I get to be a part of the blog tour for Forever Julia by Jodi Carmichael!
Title: Forever Julia
Author: Jodi Carmichael
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Paperback, 260 Pages
Expected Publication Date: May 1st, 2015
Summary: Six months ago, Julia's life was perfect. Then her dad died. Now she lives with her grieving mother and sick grandmother in a puny apartment above their bookstore. After a dark bout of depression, Julia is fragile, and mourns both her father and her old life. But she has one thing to be happy about: Jeremy, the most popular boy at school, has chosen her. Jeremy's love for Julia is passionate, even obsessive. As she grows closer to Jeremy, Julia pushes her disapproving friends and family away. But Jeremy only becomes more controlling and Julia has to decide what lines cannot be crossed.
This book was seriously important because it covers two topics that teens tend to get lectured about and pretend to understand but still misread the signals when the event presents itself in real life: mental, emotional and physical abuse.
Julia is a sixteen year old girl, and Jeremy is her first boyfriend. She recently lost her dad, so not only is she going through that struggle, but money became tight and they had to move into a cramped apartment. Having her first boyfriend, Julia knows nothing about what to expect from Jeremy, her gorgeous, funny, rich, awesome boyfriend.
She doesn't realize (at first, at least) that Jeremy is abusive. As a teenager myself, I feel that we immediately associate abuse with physical abuse. (And a few scenes in this book do cover that.) But the primary focus of Forever Julia is emotional and mental abuse.
For example, when Julia kissed Jeremy before class after taking a bite of a chocolate bar, he makes a comment about he doesn't want "a whale for a girlfriend." He takes the clothes that Julia adores and tosses them in the trash (no matter how important they may seem to her), and then insists on taking her out to buy more trendy things. He despises Julia's best friend, Annika, because she's far-fetched and wild and doesn't conform to society's social norms as easily as Jeremy's group wants her to. Julia tutors to make money on the side for her and her mom and her grandmother, and he doesn't hesitate to get jealous, even when Julia admits that the boy she's tutoring is Jeremy's own BEST FRIEND with an interest in another girl.
Throughout the whole book, Jeremy repeatedly does things like that. And on top of it all, he's pressuring Julia for sex. And she isn't ready - nor does she want to be, yet. And if Jeremy loved Julia as much as he claimed to, he would accept the waiting, right? Wrong.
If Julia so much as shys away from his touch, he drops her cold. Kicks her out of the hotel they're staying at. Pushes her or ignores her or tells her to get over herself. Excuse me, but that is not loving boyfriend behavior.
So, long story short, Julia endures his abuse for the longest time not because she wants to, but she doesn't realize it actually is considered abuse. And when she does, she realizes she has to do something about it. But what is she supposed to do?
This was a good book, and it definitely carried a very important message about how to handle and recognize the initial signs of emotional and mental abuse. It's something that definitely everyone should pick up. It's an important story because it's told the way that it really happens in real life - not everyone immediately recognizes abuse for what it is, and it tends to go on for extend periods of time before it's stopped. Julia being new to being in a relationship adds a whole new element to it, because she has absolutely no idea what to expect, which is maybe why it takes her so long to realize that Jeremy is in the wrong.
The only thing that severely irritated me about this book was the grammar. Commas were used too much or too little. Where they were needed, they were absent. Where they weren't needed, they were present. I understand that this is an ARC copy, but a lot of editing punctuation-wise really needs to be done before this book hits the shelves.
All in all, Forever Julia was an important story about sticking up for yourself and breaking off abusive relationships while staying true to your morals. I liked this book and would definitely recommend it to anybody looking for a serious, more eye-opening read. Although there are bouts of humor and typical teenager-dom to relieve the reader of the solemn topic at hand, this book still speaks volumes and Jodi Carmichael did a good job of showing how teenagers may pretend to know everything about how the world works, but when faced with a situation in reality, they flounder. This is definitely an important read that you should pick up, because even though I only gave this book three stars, it still holds an important message.
DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC copy of Forever Julia from its publisher and Chapter by Chapter in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and neither author Jodi Carmichael, Forever Julia's publishing press nor the ladies over at Chapter by Chapter saw this review before it was published live to The Book Bratz on the 5th of May, 2015.