2007 edition, Simon Pulse, ISBN 978-1-4169-3400-4
Plot Summary: Judy Blume’s 1975 classic follows the relationship between two high school seniors, Kath and Michael, and their decision to become sexually active.
Kath and Michael meet at a New Year’s party and begin dating. Michael pushes early on for their relationship to become sexual, but Kath, a virgin, is nervous. As their relationship proceeds, she decides that she is in love with Michael and they make love. They tell each other that their love is forever.
Concerned about their children becoming involved at such a young age, their parents each send Kath and Michael away for the summer. While teaching tennis at a summer camp, Kath finds herself attracted to a fellow counselor and breaks the news to Michael. Michael shows up at the camp to talk to Kath, but she breaks it off with him.
Critical Evaluation: Judy Blume is a classic YA author. Like most classics, Forever‘s subject matter stays current: the same issues that come up in the book, written in 1975, are present in young relationships now. The feelings of first love, the pressures that come with intimacy, and what does “forever” really mean? If anything, with kids maturing more quickly and becoming sexually active at an earlier age, books like Forever are every bit as important now as they were almost 40 years ago. Ms. Blume writes in a language that teens can understand – she never sides with the parents, instead treating them as rational while allwing the reader to see things from Kath’s point of view. She writes internal conflict well. She creates real characters who readers will remember long past their teen years.
Reviews: New York Times Book Review: “A convincing account of first love.”
Awards: ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award for Outstanding Literature for Young Adults (1996). Forever also appears on the American Library Association (ALA) list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 at number seven.
Reader’s Annotation: Kath loves Michael. Michael loves Kath. But when you’re 17, can you love someone forever?
Author Information: Author Judy Blume’s website offers information on all of her books, plus an extensive section on censorship and advocacy.
Genre: Realistic fiction. Subgenres: love, sexuality, relationships.
Booktalking Ideas: High school senior Kath meets and falls in love with Michael. But when he pushes her to “go further”, she has a lot of decisions to make. Do you think that the person you’re dating as a teenager can be the love of your life? Do you think that love enters into the decision to become sexually active as a teen?
Reading Level/Interest Age: 14-18.
Challenge Issues/Defense: This book is one of the most challenged books in ALA history because of its honest depiction of a young woman’s decision to become sexually active. In its defense, I say that it IS realistic fiction. She illustrates that Kath, despite pressure from her boyfriend MIchael, puts a great deal of thought into her decision. Books like these are good for parents, boys, and girls alike to read, getting a teen’s-eye view of the emotions and decisions that go into teen relationships. Not only a book about sex, this is a book about whether or not a 17-year old can fall in love “forever” – it’s a book about complex relationships and growing up.
Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?
Forever was a book I remembered fondly from my early teen years, and I wanted to revisit it at an adult. I learned that, like most classics, the key issues stay the same no matter how long ago a book was written.