With everything there is to read, it’s no surprise that many of us teen librarians have missed a must-read book here and there.’ I was reminded of this with the 100 YA Books meme that’s been going around on Facebook and the blogosphere.’ So, welcome to “Why Didn’t I Read That Book Before?” with me!
Forever . . .
A groundbreaking book when first published, Forever . . . has remained controversial.’ Yet it’s controversial because it is a truthful, honest account of a teenage girl’s developing sexuality.’ This honesty still speaks to readers, amidst references to fondue parties and worries about only getting pregnant.
Katherine meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party.’ While her friend Erica is eager to get laid, Katherine’s in no hurry.’ She wants her first time to mean something–to be with someone who’s a friend, someone she loves.’ And Michael is that someone.’ Slowly, they grow closer and closer . . . until they’re as close as two people can be.’ And Katherine and Michael think it will be forever.
But will it?
Judy Blume accurately captures the inner world of a girl learning about sex, relationships and love.’ As the blurb on the back of the 2003 reprint says, “Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?”‘ Many people that I’ve heard talking about this book focuses on how Forever . . . doesn’t end with Katherine and Michael ending up together.’ That was what struck me as well: that this novel had the courage to say that just because you’ve slept with your boyfriend, you won’t necessarily be with him forever.’ And if such a choice packed such an impact on me in 2008, imagine what it was like in 1975!
Other intriguing aspects in Forever . . . are Katherine’s relationships with her family and her best friend.’ Erica starts out as just wanting to take care of her pesky virginity problem, but slowly she comes to Katherine’s position, of wanting her first time to be special.’ It’s another sign of how this novel provides such a good opening to discussion about sex.’ And not just friends talking about sex–Katherine’s family also provides support.’ Her grandmother gives her brochures from Planned Parenthood and her parents talk to her, telling her about their histories and setting clear limits.
It’s not often that a YA classic can still be relevant to today’s teens.’ Forever . . . seems to be just such a book: it’s remained a touchstone for girls looking for knowledge about sexuality.’ Reading this book makes me want to work my way through the books on the 2008 PPYA list Sex Is . . . to see how more contemporary books compares to Forever . . . Perhaps there’s another blog post in that!