Author: Judy Blume
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Publication Date: 1975
Price: $18.99 (hardcover) $9.99 (paperback)
Genre: Contemporary – Romance
Interest Age: 14 and up
Lexile Level: 590
Annotation: Katherine and Michael are in a forever kind of love, but what happens when that is tested by a summer apart?
Plot Summary: At a New Year’s Eve house party, Katherine meets Michael. They are attracted to each other and start seeing other. Date nights with each other and double dates with best friends Erica and Artie. Soon they fall in love and Katherine knows its forever. She loses her virginity to him and their bond is stronger than ever. Plans for their future start being made, but when her parents send her away for the summer to test their relationship and she starts falling for another boy, what does it mean for her relationship with Michael?
Critical Evaluation: Judy Blume tackles first love in all its awkward, intense, and realistic moments. Blume’s focus on emotional and mental readiness for sex instead of morality issues in Katherine’s decision to have sex was significance in its time and offer new and positive perspectives on sexual awakening. Additionally, Blume portrays sex and the decision to do so realistically by touching on points like birth control and STDs. Katherine and Michael’s sexual moments are not always perfect – it’s awkward or sometimes it just doesn’t happen or incredibly fulfilling, but it is real. One of my favorite moments is Katherine’s decision to take charge of her own sexual education, an important message still today. While the focus of the story is Michael and Katherine’s relationships and Katherine’s sexual awakening, Blume touches on family relationships, grief, depression and a host of other themes. The storytelling flowed and it was an easy read from beginning to end. Something to note is the new edition of the book highlight the importance of discussing sexual responsibility and contains contact information for Planned Parenthood.
Author Bio: Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We’re Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her. (via Goodreads)
Tie to Curriculum Units: Sexual Education
Booktalking Ideas: Romance, Sex, First Love or True Love, Friendships
Challenge Issues: Forever is a book about sexual awakening, a controversial topic which lands it on many challenged lists. To defend this book, I would point out the strong reviews and continued relevance of the topic discussed in the story. If the challenger does not agree with Blume’s stance on sex, I would ask for them to recommend other titles they would like to see to create diversity in the collection.