This is a book I wish I had first read at the appropriate age. It tells you all about sex in a way I can’t imagine you could have found elsewhere in 1975, when this book was published. (Nowadays, of course, there is undoubtedly a Sex for Dummies and Sex for Idiots and Sex on Audiodisk For People Who Can’t Even Read.)
There’s a thin plot – Katherine and Michael, 17, fall in “love” in the way teens often do – a hormonally-driven attraction with no idea of who the other person even is. This is, in fact, demonstrated by giving the main characters no discernable personalities. This is not a criticism; I think it’s more realistic this way. I certainly had no idea of who my high school crush really was; nevertheless, I wanted to have his children.
After Michael and Katherine date for about five minutes, he wants to have sex. Katherine isn’t quite ready yet, but, afraid of disappointing him, administers “hand jobs” instead. (This brings back the good old days of President Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, and all the arguments about what did and did not qualify as “having sex.”)
Finally, and especially, after Michael says the three magic words, “I love you” and actually seems to mean them even though “love” could be better expressed as “lust” and “you” as “whoever,” Katherine is “ready” and they go all the way. First, however, she does make a secret visit to a Planned Parenthood Clinic to get a prescription for birth control pills. (Although Venereal Disease is mentioned, sexually transmitted diseases were not treated with appropriate seriousness in the 1970’s. The author tries to remedy this omission with a cautionary preface about the need for condoms appearing in the 2007 edition.)
The first several times don’t go so well, and they fumble along and try to stay upbeat. Finally, they get into the rhythm of it, so to speak. The two swear to love each other “forever” and Michael gives Katherine a necklace commemorating that sentiment.
Meanwhile, each of their parents think the couple needs some space. They get jobs for them far away from each other. Katherine, a counselor at her sister’s camp, finds herself falling for Theo. Oops. Michael, alarmed at the sudden lack of mail, makes a surprise visit and finds them holding hands. Oops. Nevertheless, he takes her to his hotel room and tries to have sex with her. He discovers that alas, nothing is forever.
Later, after having broken up that day at the hotel, they run into each other one more time before each leaves for college. Katherine says:
“I wanted to tell him that I will never be sorry for loving him. That in a way I still do – that maybe I always will. I’ll never regret one single thing we did together because what we had was very special. Maybe if we were ten years older it would have worked out differently. Maybe. I think it’s just that I’m not ready for forever.”
Evaluation: While it’s not much on plot, I think this is a really important book. I would want my high school girl to read it.
Published by Bradbury Press, 1975
As I said before, I didn’t read any Judy Blume growing up, but after all this Twilight craze, it’s really refreshing to see a book aimed at teen girls that actually offers a healthy perspective! I have to say, I was expecting the worst, but it was interesting to see that Blume chose to go the route of Katherine outgrowing Michael, rather than having her get dumped after she has sex with him. Such a nice change of pace!
See I did read this as a teenager. This is where we learned “stuff”. I still had phrases in the book bouncing around in my head 30 years later I think. You are right, the book isn’t really all that deep, but what teenage romance is? I just remember when I was reading it, it epitomized what we were all feeling. It was our bible, similar to the role Margaret played earlier in our youth. Isn’t this challenge fun?
I love Judy Blume and did read all of her books growing up. I need to go back and read this one.
I “read” this novel as a teen but, as I read your great review, I can honestly say that none of that was familiar to me! I’m going to go out on a limb and say I need to refresh my knowledge of Forever, a book I remember liking but now cannot recall!
I have this one sitting here! I am a huge Judy Blume fan so I’m anxious to revisit this one!
Boy, does that book sound realistic! You have no idea how glad I am to be way past that stuff!
My daughters read this one too, but I think they were more like 7th or 8th grade. It led to some good mom and daughter conversations. At least it was good for me. Forever was a good prelude to the discussion of “when” is sex okay.
That was the hot book in 8th grade – we dogged eared all the “dirty” parts and passed the book around during class.
I read this one a long time ago…back when I was in 6th grade..My mom let me read whatever I wanted. Even though it is a bit dated this is still an important book!
I read a lot when I was a kid–I took as many books home from the city library and school library as I could. But I swear I cannot remember ever reading any Judy Blume. How weird is that?
I’ve never read this, but I’ve heard about it A LOT as one of Judy Blume’s Controversial Books. I loved Judy Blume’s kids’ books, but didn’t read any of her YA ones when I was a young adult, and just never got back to them later on.
I got this book via Bookmooch the other day, mostly out of historical interest, lol. I’m sure it won’t have the impact it would’ve had if I’d read it at the right age, but I’m still curious.
This is the one Judy Blume book I didn’t read when I was younger. I’ve always been curious about it, but not sure I’ll read it at this point.
I do think this is the genius of this book … it captures (sincerely) the ridiculousness of “love” at this young age and how “forever” is really until you meet someone else. : )
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What I remember most about this book is that it was banned. We had to smuggle a single copy around the school and the only reason we WANTED to read it was because it was banned!
I still consider reading the book one of my most daring activities while in high school! Or maybe it was Jr. High… either way, my parents were lucky to get me! 😀
An enjoyable read Forever . . . by Judy Blume . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by “to read” list.