Forever, Judy Blume (1975).
NY: Bradbury Press. ISBN: 0-02-711030-3
Katherine is 17, and has just met a cute boy named Michael, who is totally requiting her crush. They bond over records (see publication date), start to date and hang out, and Katherine finds herself falling hard for him. Her best friend Erica has a crush on his best friend, Artie, who may or may not be gay, but who is definitely depressed. Katherine and Michael eventually decide to take things up a notch, and Do It. They like Doing It, so they keep Doing It. Artie and Erica don't, because Artie is gay-maybe, depressed-definitely. When Artie tries to commit suicide, the teens all come together to help each other and Artie accept who they are and the choices they make. Meanwhile, back at their parents homes, Michael and Katherine are still in love, forever, and Doin' It. Even though their parents and other grown ups want them to try dating other people, they can’t see the point, because this is love. They are presented with a major hurdle when their parents make them spend their senior summer apart. This is the story of first love, friendship, sex, and growing up.
I do love me a good smutty book. Banned book list? Bring. It. On. I’m somewhat disappointed with my teenaged self for never getting more into dirty Judy Blume books; I guess finding my fourth-grade-self somewhat scandalized and over-stimulated all the period talk in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, is probably is a good explanation for why I never branched out. I digress... Forever did not disappoint.
This is really at its core a story about growing up, accepting your sexuality (and that of others, like gay-maybe Artie), love, and doin’ it. It goes without saying that Katherine and Michael take an express train to Boom City. Judy Blume doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty of sex, be it in the form of teenage pregnancy, sexual attraction, premature ejaculation, etc. While I initially giggled and gasped about the awkwardness of Michael and Katherine’s first time(s), this book serves to debunk the myths surrounding sex for most teenagers. While Katherine is kind of an insensitive flake when she breaks up with Michael (in my humble opinion), she is a role model for girls who are thinking about becoming sexually active because she is so responsible, taking a trip to Planned Parenthood and always insisting on protection. Despite being written thirty-three years ago, this book stands up to the passage of time as a testament to growing up. High five, Judy Blume.
Best for: Teenage girls, ages 13-18. Or dirty book affectionados, avec moi.
The Hook: Banned book about sex. It kind of sells itself. Short of that, I would give a brief summary, holding up the cover of my copy, which features a big brass bed with….wait for it…rumpled sheets! SCANDAL.