Forever

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Title:   Forever

Author:  Judy Blume

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reissue April 29, 2014 (1975)

ISBN: 9781481414432

 About the author:  from http://www.judyblume.com/about.php

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 four novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; Wifey and In the Unlikely Event, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 85 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-two languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her.

Judy received a B.S. in education from New York University in 1961, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996, the same year the American Library Association honored her with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. Other recognitions include the Library of Congress Living Legends Award and the 2004 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

She is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation. She serves on the boards of the Author’s Guild; the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Judy is a longtime advocate of intellectual freedom. Finding herself at the center of an organized book banning campaign in the 1980’s she began to reach out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, who were under fire. Since then, she has worked tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be, Original Stories by Censored Writers.

Judy has completed a series of four chapter books — The Pain & the Great One — illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson. She has co-written and produced a film adaptation of her book Tiger Eyes, and her new adult novel, In the Unlikely Event, was released in June 2015.

Judy and her husband George Cooper live on islands up and down the east coast. They have three grown children and one grandchild.

 Plot: Katherine and Michael have fallen in love.

Critical Evaluation:

Judy Blume is known for her novels sympathetic to girls and young women. Her novels had an uncanny ability to get inside my preteen head. In sixth grade, I read Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret and it was wonderfully relatable, preteen angst and all. “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” was my mantra for a few years. As an adult, I read Forever in the same nostalgic vein. Katherine and Michael promise each other forever, but with a summer romance, forever is only fleeting.

Forever was originally published in 1970. The idea that every young woman should take sexual responsibility for herself caused a stir and Forever to be routinely challenged and banned throughout the years for the depiction of teenage sex and the use of birth control.

When the book was originally published, teen pregnancy was the biggest consequence of teenage sex. The copy I checked out from the library was published in 1992 with an author’s added note. The note explained that AIDS was an even bigger consequence of sex, and could kill you.  All the more reason for teens to be aware of how to protect themselves and become responsible for having safe sex or abstaining.  This make her books as relevant now as they were then.

We first meet Katherine Danzinger when she meets Michael Wagner at a friend’s fondue party. Waiting for college acceptance letters, we know that “Kath” is college-bound, and this foreshadows how long their romance might last. Blume writes of this fleeting moment of young love, when high school graduation is over, and the beginning of college is imminent.  After Katherine and Michael start to “go together” she says, “…my insides turned over.”

Michael gives Kath a necklace engraved with “forever” on it.  It is a symbol of their “forever” love. But when you’re seventeen, forever is not as long as it seems.  The idea of forever is challenged when Kath’s parents force her to take a summer job at a tennis camp out of state. Kath is infuriated by having to leave Michael for most of the short time they have together before college.  This sets up a challenge to their “forever” love.

At camp, she meets Theo, a fellow tennis counselor, and feels guilty about feeling attracted to the cute boy who rarely wears a shirt. She starts to get butterflies again, not for Michael, but for Theo. “…if only my insides didn’t turn over every time our eyes meet.” When you’re seventeen, forever doesn’t last too long.

 Reader’s Annotation:  Katherine and Michael have promised each other forever. But what if forever doesn’t last past the summer?

Genre: romance, coming-of-age

Curriculum Ties: writing

Booktalking Ideas: Falling in love in high school can be confusing. How would you react if you were in Katherine or Michael’s shoes?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 16+

Challenge Issues: sex, profanity, teen pregnancy

Challenge Resources 

  • Library Selection Policy
  • Rationale explaining why the item was chosen for the collection
  • Active listening skills
  • Awards
  • Reconsideration form (as a last resort)
  • National Council of Teachers of English “Right to Read”
  • Positive and negative reviews: expert, parent, student
  • ALA Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials
  • ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
  • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

Why did you pick this for your collection?  

YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Sex is… (2008)