What I really liked was that the novel wasn't preachy about sex, in the way that some novels are. The issue of sex isn't a moral one, and as it was written in 1975 I feel that the moral issue surrounding sex is still (largely) gone. I read some criticism that the book has, and it's fairly interesting. I never read this book as a young adult, but I read Chuck Palahniuk and I see some of his novels as much "worse," though his books don't deal with Young Adults. Is that supposed to be the difference here?
Anyway, I particularly liked the character Erica, and she had Kath present an interesting notion about sex: is it a physical act or a romantic one? I think it is a good thing to make young readers think about. Especially because one character becomes pregnant and becomes almost a warning not that you shouldn't have sex, but that you should use protection, and actually know who the father is. The character who actually gets pregnant also has the desire to deliver the baby, despite not being able to take care of the baby. She wanted the "experience" of having a child. Personally, I feel like this was an unrealistic romantic idea she had, yet I feel that she herself believes that the act is a physical experience because she has intercourse with so many men that she doesn't know who the father is. From the beginning I felt that this character had a stigma about her, and I knew that something weird was going to happen.
Other than that, I found the book to be a very quick read, and that says a lot because I am a very slow reader. The book took me perhaps two hours to read. Maybe two and a half? But there is a lot to consider in the novel, though the pace moves fairly quickly. How to explain it? Thought provoking issues were raised, we listened to the characters talk it out a bit, mostly summarized by the narrator, we read her thoughts, etc. but the plot and the pace doesn't stop. It's not like a Jane Austen novel where there are epically boring parts (sorry Austen fans). It really reminded me of high school where you just "keep going," day in, day out, and new stuff happened and developed everyday. Big decisions were made on a whim by some people, but if you're really trying to make a decision and you're thinking about it, you're still swept away by the everyday tide.
On a side note of Judy Blume and Chuck Palahniuk, I found this on Wikipedia: "Damned is an upcoming novel by Chuck Palahniuk, which is scheduled to be published on October 18, 2011. The plot concerns Madison, an eleven year old girl who finds herself in Hell, unsure of why she will be there for all eternity, but tries to make the best of it. It is based on the structure of Judy Blume novels, particularly Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." Epic, or, epic, right?