Forever by Judy Blume
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Copyright Date: 1975
Reading Age: 14-18
Reading Level: Grades 9-12
Awards: Margaret A. Edwards Award, runner-up Best Book of the Year Award
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
What is forever? What is true love? Katherine and Michael met on New Year's Eve and it felt like their love story was one that would pass the test of time. They are wholly committed to each other and even end up losing their virginity to each other. They cannot imagine living without the other. Then they spend the summer apart from one another. Katherine finds herself developing feelings for another boy. What does this mean about loving someone forever? What does this mean about her? As Katherine explores these thoughts and feelings, she begins to understand what it means to mature and open yourself up to the world of love.
Judy Blume uses her signature ability to discuss taboo subjects with honesty, this time examining the desires of teens and their choices to begin having sex. While many adults might be horrified by the idea, it is reality for many teens, and a frank discussion of concepts like birth control, consent, commitment, the evolution of relationships, and sexuality as just as important as when they were written about in 1975. Blume's novels have a timeless quality to them, and this one is no exception. The realness and truth of Katherine's feelings for Michael are exquisitely expressed, as are her struggles when she realizes that she is starting to have feelings for a different boy. Being a teen can feel so immediate, so amplified, and Blume captures these emotions so well. That frankness of the teen experience is a main reason this book is still picked up to be read by teens. There is no moral objective, no hidden judgement behind the story. Blume said her inspiration to write Forever was because her daughter was tired of stories where teens who have sex end up dead or pregnant with no other option to be had. While this is a story about teens having a sexual relationship for the first time, it is also an examination of that feeling of forever and how that feeling changes as people grow and mature. The analysis of the evolution of a loving relationship is important. Teens see that things do change, and it does not have to be a catastrophe. Instead, that evolution can be welcomed as a healthy aspect of growing up and allowing our expectations to change.
Katherine and Michael cannot imagine a life without the other. They feel as if they were meant to be—that is until they are separated that summer.
About the Author
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, beginning with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Judy has also written novels for adults that include Wifey, Smart Women, Summer Sisters and her most recent In the Unlikely Event, all of them New York Times bestsellers.
Together, her 29 books have sold more than 90 million copies in 32 languages, and have been a touchstone for countless young readers, many of whom have been inspired, as grownups, to write their own books. Judy’s knowing voice and honesty come with a price: the American Library Association has consistently placed Blume at or near the top of its list of authors most frequently banned. In turn, she has championed intellectual freedom by working diligently with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to support teachers and librarians who fight to keep challenged books on their shelves.
In 2009, the NCAC honored and paid tribute to Blume’s longstanding defense of free speech and her courageous battles against all kinds of censorship. She was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2004 and the Library of Congress’ Living Legends award in 2000. Judy is also the recipient of the 2017 E. B White Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the 2018 Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation. In 2020, Judy was honored by the Authors Guild Foundation for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community. And, in 2021, Yale University conferred a Doctor of Letters honorary degree to Judy.
Judy serves on the boards of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Key West Literary Seminar. Additionally, she is an advisory member of the boards for both the Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
In 2016 Blume and her husband, George Cooper, longing for a bookstore in Key West where they live, founded the independent, non-profit Books & Books @ The Studios. She is proud to be associated with Mitchell Kaplan the Miami bookseller. These days Blume can be found working several days a week at her shop. “After 50 years of writing, I’m enjoying meeting so many readers and introducing them to some of my favorite authors.” (About the author and author photo can be found here.)
Talk about the first time you fell in love and how that relates to the book.
Discuss how stories of teens having sex so often also include one of them dying or the girl becoming pregnant. This didn't happen to the two main characters in Forever. Was that groundbreaking? Is it still?
Challenge issues: teen sexuality, underage drinking, drug use, strong language, teen pregnancy
Challenge Issue Resources:
Nevada County Library Selection Policy
Selection of materials is based upon a number of criteria that include:
The Library selects materials in accordance with the guidelines stated by the American Library Association in its Library Bill of Rights, and Freedom to Read Statement and Freedom to View Statements.
The Library supports diversity of expression and views in its collection in an attempt to provide patrons with a foundation for making informed decisions and formulating personal opinions. The Library does not exclude items because of the race, nationality, social, political, or religious views of the authors. The presence of controversial materials in the collection does not represent the Library’s endorsement of the opinions expressed therein. Although some materials selected may contain language and/or illustrations that may be offensive to some patrons, the Library cannot undertake the task of pleasing all individuals by censoring such items.
Active Listening Skills
Staff should listen calmly to the patron’s concerns without judgement or commentary. They should acknowledge the public’s right to challenge materials and help the patron find an alternative item that will fit their needs.
Nevada County Library Reconsideration form
Any citizen may challenge materials. If the citizen chooses to submit a written Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, Library staff will collect reviews and accumulate data on how the material conforms to the selection policy. An ad hoc review committee consisting of the Library Director, Branch Manager, one other librarian, and a citizen appointed at the discretion of the Library Director will review the material, judge whether it conforms to the Selection Policy and submit its report in writing to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Concerned parties will be notified of the final decision in writing.
ALA Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials
ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
That first love that feels like it is going to last forever is so important. Judy Blume explores the concepts of commitment, relationships, and sex in the open, honest way that is her trademark. Even though this book is as old as I am, its frankness is still as needed today as it was in 1975.