Blume, Judy. 1975. Forever. New York: Simon Pulse. ISBN: 978141693444
Katherine is a high school senior who meets Michael, a charming and kind guy. She quickly falls for Michael, and their relationship moves to sex fairly quickly. Katherine goes through the emotions of wondering about her feelings for Michael, worrying about STD's (called VD's in the book), getting birth control, and balancing relationships with her parents, friends, and her new love. While Katherine is convinced their love will last forever, she soon realizes young love is not always lasting love when she is forced to go camp, where she meets Theo. Katherine soon develops feelings for Theo, leaving her to wonder about her relationship with Michael. Katherine ends things with Michael, and she quickly starts a relationship with Theo, leaving the reader to wonder how long forever really is.
In today's world, teens often have sex recklessly and without much though. Judy Blume's book Forever, while written long ago, speaks loudly and clearly to today's youth. Katherine is a typical girl who falls for a guy. Blume does a great job of keeping the relationship realistic with the teens meeting at a party, going on dates, and even meeting each other's parents. The sexual relationship also progresses naturally. Judy Blume gives a realistic and detailed description of sex, contradicting the misconception that sex is like it is in the movies. She also has Katherine going to get birth control, teaching that birth control is mandatory while not preaching at the reader. On the contrary, Michael had a VD from a previous relationship, and that is blown off as something that is not a big deal. He tells Katherine that he took some medicine and is fine. Katherine naively believes him, and this could have been explored more in the book. STD's are common in America's teens, and Blume could have taken that opportunity to teach more about STD's and reach deeper into Katherine's blind acceptance of his explanation.
More groundwork could have been laid to show how the relationship progressed. The reader is not sure about what makes Michael so special. Why is he different from other guys? Why is he the one she should have sex with? Because this is not shown, the reader questions whether the love is real or if it is just hormones. This questioning continues when Katherine moves on so quickly, especially when she sees Michael after the break-up. She knows she is "not ready for forever" but can only say, "See you around." Then she gets home to hear that Theo has called. There is no mourning over the end of her relationship with her first love. It treats that first love and first sexual experience as not that big of a deal when it should be.
In this book, Blume also explores the relationship between teens and parents. Katherine has a healthy relationship with her parents, but when she becomes sexually active, the relationship changes some even though the parents do not come out and talk to Katherine about sex. The relationship becomes more tense with Katherine's parents eventually having to send her to camp in an attempt to get her away from Michael. This type of relationship was typical for the time the book was written. However, today, more parents are talking about sex with their kids, and many kids are more openly discussing their lives. While some parents may fear their children reading a book that speaks so openly about sex, if they are talking to their kids about sex, this book does not cover anything new. Instead of banning this book, adults should use it as a springboard for an honest, open talk about sex and its consequences, especially when rushed into.
"A convincing account of first love." –The New York Times Book Review
"No preaching (Blume never does) but the message is clear; no hedging (Blume never does) but a candid account by Kathy gives intimate details of a first sexual relationship. The characters and dialogue are equally natural and vigorous, the language uncensored, the depiction of family relationships outstanding."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults.
http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Judy-Blume/dp/1416934006/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226878051&sr=1-2 (Accessed November 16, 2008)