Forever... (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
First edition
AuthorJudy Blume
CountryUnited States
GenreYoung adult
PublisherBradbury Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)

Forever... is a 1975 novel by Judy Blume dealing with teenage sexuality. Because of the novel's content it has been the frequent target of censorship and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 at number seven.[1][2][3]

The three ellipsis points at the end of the title are part of the title, and relate to the central theme of the novel.

Plot summary[edit]

In the town of Westfield, New Jersey, a high school senior, Katherine, finds herself strongly attracted to Michael, a boy she meets at a New Year's party. As their relationship unfolds, the issue of sex comes up more as an emotional and health issue than as a moral one. Both of them are aware that physical intimacy is both common and complicated.

Their relationship progresses slowly as they begin to go on dates and trips together; they are accompanied on various meetings by Katherine's friend, Erica, who has known Katherine since the 9th grade and believes that sex is a physical act and not very romantic, and believes Katherine should "just get it out of the way." Erica and Katherine are also joined by Michael's friend Artie, who gets together with Erica. Katherine is reluctant, cautious about intercourse. When Michael is fondling her inside her panties for the first time, she stops him. Even though he says they can satisfy each other without the whole thing (actual intercourse), she stops his fondling. Then Katherine and Michael go on a skiing trip, where they plan to have sex, but Katherine has her period, and they are disappointed. Gradually, in successive times together during the skiing trip, alone in Katherine's bedroom, their intimacy increases. Katherine takes off her nightie, and Michael removes his pyjama top. They lie together, kissing, with their bodies moving against each other until Katherine has an orgasm. Now she decides to satisfy him, and asks him to show her what to do. Michael teaches Katherine how to hold his penis (nicknamed "Ralph") and how to rub it correctly, stroking rhythmically, until he ejaculates. (The book explains that Michael shows Katherine "how to hold him, [moving her] hand up and down according to his rhythm. Soon Michael moaned and [she] felt him come — a pulsating feeling, a throbbing, like the books said — then wetness. Some of it got on [her] hand but [she] didn’t let go of Ralph.") Their growing intimacy continues, including mutual masturbation. Days later, when Katherine and Michael do have sex (penetrative intercourse) with an unlubricated condom, on Michael's sister's living room floor in her apartment, she is not physically satisfied, but they are sure it seals a love that will be "forever". A few weeks later, after starting to use the birth control "pill", following her grandmother's frank advice, Katherine reaches orgasm when she and Michael are having sex. They both fall asleep briefly after Michael comes too quickly, and he is able to last longer when he wakes. They talk about this, Katherine saying how close she now feels to Michael. And then they shower together. A few days later Katherine has two orgasms during intercourse when he lies on his back, and she straddles him and can control their actions. Michael buys Katherine a necklace for her birthday that says "Katherine" on one side and "Forever...Michael" on the other. That summer, both sets of parents make plans that will take Katherine and Michael to two different states. Katherine finds herself aware of the limitations of the relationship and is ultimately attracted to a tennis instructor, Theo, who is older than Michael. Theo calls her Kat, even though she is at first highly irritated with the nickname.

Katherine tries to ignore the sexual tension between herself and Theo, but when she is stricken with grief on the death of her grandfather, Theo is the first person she turns to. They kiss, and Theo is the first to pull away. After Katherine is unable to answer Michael's next letters, he shows up at her camp, where his first sight of Katherine is her and Theo hand-in-hand. At a motel room later that night, Katherine is unresponsive, and Michael knows, without her admitting it, that she is involved with someone else. She gives back the necklace, and he drives off in a near-rage. The book ends with one last chance meeting between Michael and Katherine, in which Katherine thinks, and tries to say with her eyes, that she does not regret the relationship, but she's not ready for "forever". At home, Katherine's mother tells her, "Theo called."



Katherine Danziger Protagonist of the book. Katherine turns 18 and is a high school senior who is getting ready for college. When she meets Michael, she falls in love with him, and starts a relationship with him. One of the novel's central plotlines is her decision to lose her virginity to him, as well as the sexual relationship they share together. After she breaks off with Michael she starts one with Theo.

Michael Wagner The boy who Katherine meets and with whom Katherine falls in love. He is a senior at another high school nearby. They meet at a New Year's Eve Party, and their relationship develops from there. Michael wants to make love to Katherine, and after some impatience, agrees to wait until she is ready. He nicknames his penis "Ralph." They manage to hold a relationship together for a few months before it falls apart.

Erica Small Katherine's best friend, who provides her with emotional support owing to Erica's ability to see situations from a realistic point of view. She sees sex as a physical act, not a romantic one, unlike Katherine, and just wants her to get over with it.

Artie Lewin A boy who is friends with Katherine and Michael. He is a talented actor who wins a scholarship to a drama academy, and a repressed homosexual who does not respond to Erica's romantic/sexual signals. Over the course of the story, he sinks into depression, which is not helped when his father forbids him to accept the drama scholarship. After a suicide threat and attempt, he is committed to a mental hospital. In September, Michael says "He's home; I saw him last week," but no word on his condition.


Sybil Davison Katherine's friend (and Erica's cousin) who later gets pregnant when having loveless intercourse because she wants to have experience in giving birth. She doesn't tell her parents because she knows they would have wanted her to have an abortion, and put the baby up for adoption, hoping that they would name her baby girl Jennifer.

Jamie Danziger Katherine's little sister by 5 years. She is proficient in music, art, and cooking. She is in the seventh grade and looks a lot like Katherine. Katherine used to be jealous of Jamie for her artistic ability, but it passed.

Roger Danziger Katherine's father, a pharmacist who owns two drug stores.

Diana Danziger (née Gross) Katherine's mother, a librarian. She gives Katherine sexual advice, and says that losing your virginity is a serious thing.

Hallie Gross Katherine's maternal grandmother, a lawyer and progressive liberal.

Ivan Gross Katherine's maternal grandfather, who had previously had a stroke (he had to walk with a cane and sometimes at a loss for words), and would have another one later in the book that would kill him.

Theo An older boy who Katherine inadvertently falls for while working at a camp, which spells the end of her relationship with Michael.

David A boy Jamie falls in love with, and starts a relationship with.


On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed Forever... on its list of the 100 most influential novels.[4]


Year Award Result Ref.
1996 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner [5][6]
1975 Best Book of the Year Award Runner Up [7]


Forever... has frequently been banned in schools and libraries on due to its detailed depictions of sexual intercourse, and because the protagonist, Katherine, uses birth control. Criticism of the novel often comes from religious groups and pro-abstinence groups who consider the use of 'the pill' unsuitable.[8] The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom started tracking the most banned and challenged books in the United States in the 1990s and found that Forever... landed in the top 100 banned and challenged books from 1990-1999 (7th),[9] as well as from 2000-2009 (16th).[10] In 2005, the book was the second most banned and challenged book in the United States.[11][12]


The book was adapted for American television in 1978, featuring Stephanie Zimbalist as Katherine and Dean Butler as Michael.

In June 2004, the Sacred Fools Theater Company performed a comic adaption of Forever for their Get Lit! series.[13]

In November 2022, Netflix announced that it had commissioned a television series adaptation, with Mara Brock Akil serving as showrunner and executive producer under her overall deal.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Judy Blume Forever Censored?". Pelham Library. 2006-09-28.
  2. ^ "NCAC Applauds Decision To Return Judy Blume's "Forever" To Elgin, Illinois Middle School Libraries' Shelves". Youth Free Expression Network (Press release). 2002-01-23. Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2006-10-12..
  3. ^ "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999". American Library Association..
  4. ^ "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-10. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.
  5. ^ Sutton, Roger. "An Interview With Judy Blume: Forever...Yours". Retrieved 2011-03-05.
  6. ^ "1996 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner". American Library Association. 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2022-08-06.
  7. ^ Donelson, Ken (1997). "Honoring the Best YA Books of the Year: 1964-1995". The English Journal. 86 (3): 41–47. doi:10.2307/820644. JSTOR 820644.
  8. ^ Crown, Sarah (2005-06-08). "Teen spirit". The Guardian. London, UK..
  9. ^ "100 most frequently challenged books: 1990-1999". American Library Association. 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2022-08-06.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009". American Library Association. 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2022-08-06.
  11. ^ "Top 10 Most Challenged Books Lists". American Library Association. 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2022-08-06.
  12. ^ ""It's Perfectly Normal" tops ALA's 2005 list of most challenged books". American Library Association. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2022-08-06.
  13. ^ "Get Lit". Sacred Fools Theater Company.
  14. ^ Cordero, Rosy (November 10, 2022). "Judy Blume Novel 'Forever' Set As Netflix Series From Mara Brock Akil". Deadline Hollywood.

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