Forever, Judy Blume
Forever is a novel from 1975, and while it isn’t the most contemporary thing out there right now, the content of this novel is still important and applicable to teens in 2013. It is a YA story about both teenage sexuality and love. The story follows 17-year-old Katherine, who is a senior in high school. She falls in love with Michael at a New Year’s Eve party, and readers follow their romance through the loss of virginity, birth control, promising to stay together forever and planning their future together. However, Katherine takes a summer job outside of their town and they spend time apart, eventually ending their relationship, which they both thought would last “forever.”
There are many issues in this novel that are complicated but real to life. There is an attempted suicide, homosexuality, and talk of sexually transmitted diseases. Sex is a topic that comes up frequently in this novel in many different ways. It is explored as an emotional or physical issue as well as health and moral issues. Readers see that all of these issues are complicated, but that they are ones to be discussed rather than ignored.
Why it was banned or challenged and why we should still read it:
“But I think it’s more than that. It’s what we don’t want our children to know, what we don’t want to talk to our children about; and if they read it, they’ll know it, or they’ll question it.” – Judy Blume
Judy Blume’s Forever deals with teenage sexuality and birth control, and because of its content it has been on the ALA list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009, at number sixteen. (http://www.ala.org/bbooks/top-100-bannedchallenged-books-2000-2009) Blume’s Forever has sold over 3.5 millions copes and today it is still causing controversy. It was one of the first books to give teen girls insight on “going all the way.” Why is it that as a society we try to hide sexuality from teenagers?
One blogger said of Forever that it “Has frequently been the target of censors. This story about the sexual awakening of a teenage girl has been challenged since its publication because it “does not promote abstinence and monogamous relationships.” It was challenged by Midvalley Junior-Senior Scranton, Pennsylvania high school library (1982), Orlando, Florida schools (1982) and Akron, Ohio school district libraries (1983) for using “four-letter words” and for talking about masturbation, birth control and disobedience to parents.”
Although these issues are not frequently talked about, they are important. Safe sex is important. Judy Blume thoughtfully crafted a novel that talks about the dangers of unsafe sex and how to be safe. Without being preachy, Blume provides a novel that teenagers can relate to. If these issues are hard to discuss, why not hand a kid a book that they can explore?
Judy Blume says it best herself:
“What I hear from my readers is that the story itself is timeless. There will always be first love, first sexual feelings, first sexual relationships. Here we are, 30 years later, and just as many young people are reading the book today as when it was published.”
“The 70s was a much more open decade in America,” she says. “Forever was used in several school programs then, helping to spur discussions of sexual responsibility. This would never happen today. How are young people supposed to make thoughtful decisions if they don’t have information and no one is willing to talk with them?”
A Video Interview with Judy Blume:
Judy Blume’s Website:
More about Judy Blume and censorship:
On Safer Sex: