I was 12 when I first read Forever by Judy Blume.  I didn’t sneak read it either.   judyblume-foreverWell not really.  I got my grandmother to buy me a copy during my annual summer visit.  It was horrible of me I know, taking advantage of my grandmother’s implicit trust in my literature selections.  She would have been horrified if she knew.  The thing is, any disapproval the adults in my life would have had about my reading such a book is unfettered.  I was still a virgin when I graduated high school and Judy Blume gets at least 75% of the credit.  The remaining 25% goes to my desire to avoid the guilt efficiently instilled by my mother and the Catholic Church. 

If you are a woman who spent her teenage years locked in a closet (or you are simply a man) and you haven’t already figured it out yet, Forever was a book containing graphic sexual material.  And while it was the story of a teenaged couple who falls in love it was not something I would describe as a romance novel.  To me it was a story about life and its consequences.  And the key to teaching teenagers about the seriousness of sex is to hammer home (tee hee!) the consequences. 

Unlike it’s poor excuse for a counter-part, Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, where we learned nothing about sex other than it is guaranteed to get you pregnant the first time, the consequence in Forever is a broken heart.  For some reason, that hit home for me at age 12 way more than the threat of pregnancy.  Like any other 12 year old I was fascinated with the graphic descriptions of Katherine’s first experiences with sex but that graphic nature also helped me understand the seriousness of the act.  Why do something like that with a boy, I reasoned by the end of the book, if there are no guarantees that you will be together forever?  It was a pretty good lesson, I think, and far better than anything I would have gotten out of a book about a girl who would do anything for a teenaged vampire. 

My original copy of Forever is long gone. Seeing as how it was one of the few obtainable copies available to the 7th and 8th grade girls of Mendenhall Junior High, I lost track of it the summer before my freshman year of high school.  My hope is it made it through at least another 3-4 years of being passed around before pages 73, 100 and 125 fell out. 

P.S.  Through the wonders of Google I just learned that in 1978 there was a made for TV movie made based on this book staring Dean Butler of Little House on the Prairie fame as Michael and Stephanie Zimbalist (never heard of her) as Katherine?  As it does not appear to be available via Netflix I will be releasing the dogs in search of this little treasure immediately!