Forever, by Judy Blume, tells the love story of Katherine and Michael, two teenagers who meet at a New Year’s Eve party and fall in love. Katherine, like many other girls going through the experience of losing their virginity, wants it to be perfect and special; she wants her relationship with Michael to have emotions attached to it rather than it only be a physical experience. Katherine matures through the process, gains confidence, and discovers that when one is young, sometimes forever does not mean the same thing as everlasting.
This book was first published in 1975, a couple of years after Roe vs. Wade had passed, making abortion legal. The novel caused a storm of controversy when it was first published because of its explicit sexual content. It touched on different topics that were still seen as contentious because the idea of women controlling their reproduction was hard for many to comprehend.
Blume’s daughter, Randy, asked her mother to write a story of two teenagers who have sex, without either of them having to be punished or die. She choose to address issues such as sexuality, birth control, and moving on, which gave the book more of a realistic approach. It is one of the few books that depicts teenage sexuality in a positive light without the need to glorify sex. It’s not your typical love story since most novels that usually depict teenagers having sex show it as punishable. If they had sex, the girl would either be punished by an unplanned pregnancy or be sent away to a distant relative to keep from shaming her family. Girls were hardly ever portrayed as sexual beings without being stigmatized by society and boys were only seen as having sexual feelings, waiting to deflower the girl. There was no gray area when sexuality was discussed and the thought of teenagers having sex was taboo. Even today, the idea that teenagers are having sex is seen as negative because society assumes teenagers are not capable of making rational decisions regarding sex. There are more depictions of teenage sexuality now than there were when this book was published.
Forever brings a different light to the usual depictions of teenagers, love, and sex. There is no shame in female sexuality and there are positive conversations about sex and contraception between the couple, as well as the adults around them. Parents advise kids about sex but do not cross the boundaries in explicitly forbidding anything. Birth control is accessible and is viewed as a responsible choice, and Planned Parenthood helps Katherine make that choice. It also gives a positive view of relationships at every stage. Katherine and Michael are extraordinary characters who show that love is beautiful; Love does not have a destination like we have foolishly believed due to the countless portrayals the media has thrown at us.
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.
Katherine and Michael are not destined for each other and are not soul mates. They are just two teenagers who fall in love and maturely decide to live in the moment. They serve as a mirror for countless couples both young and old. Love is what you make of it. There is a constant fear of reaching forever but sometimes forever never comes and that should be just fine too.
Judith Blume, better known as Judy Blume, the well-known American writer of children and young adult books has had her books translated into 31 languages. Some of her books include Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret; Iggie’s House; Blubber; and Forever. Blume’s novels discuss racism, menstruation, divorce, bullying, masturbation, and teen sex.