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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.
Katherine, in the middle of her senior year in high school, 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. Michael has been sexually active, while Katherine has not. 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 a romantic act. Erica and Katherine are also joined by Michael's friend Artie, who, with Erica's help, explores and acknowledges some uncertainty about his own sexuality. Artie is a depressed teenager who feels life is over after high school. He shows his depression when he attempts to hang himself from his shower curtain rod but fails.
When Katherine and Michael do have sex on Michael's sister's bedroom floor, they are sure it seals a love that will be "forever". Michael buys Katherine a necklace for her birthday that says both of their names on it and it also says "Forever". However, separated for the summer by work that takes them 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 and more experienced in life. She takes responsibility for breaking the news to Michael when he comes on a surprise visit and almost catches her and Theo together. Katherine realizes the "loss" of Michael, while painful at first, can be the start of new successful relationships. The book ends with Katherine's mother giving her a message that Theo called for her.
Katherine Danziger Protagonist of the book. Katherine is a senior in high school who is getting ready for college. When she meets Michael, she falls in love 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.
Michael Wagner Boy who Katherine meets and with whom Katherine falls in love. He is a senior at another high school nearby.
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.
Artie Lewin A boy who is friends with Katherine and Michael. He is not very confident about himself and questions his sexuality and wonders if he is gay.
Sybil Davison Katherine's friend (and Erica's cousin) who later gets pregnant when having loveless intercourse.
Jamie Danziger Katherine's little sister. She is proficient in music, art, and cooking. She is in the seventh grade and looks a lot like Kath.
Roger Danziger Katherine's father, a pharmacist who owns two drug stores.
Diana Danziger (née Gross) Katherine's mother, a librarian.
Hallie Gross Katherine's maternal grandmother, a lawyer and progressive liberal.
Ivan Gross Katherine's maternal grandfather, who had previously had a stroke, and would have another one later in the book which would claim his life.
Theo An older boy who Katherine inadvertently falls for while working at a camp, which spells the end of her and Michael.
David A boy Jamie falls in love with.
Forever... is all about teenage sexuality. The sexual language of the book is graphic and the scenes are a little more vague. "The book was written in the midst of the so-called sexual revolution of the 1970s, when young people were attempting to throw off limiting social rules that, on the surface, demanded that girls remain virgins, while they gave boys permission to act out sexually." Forever... really shows what teenagers are capable of and what some of them go through in relationships. Katherine and Michael fall in love and explore their sexuality. Forever... is a book which "…fits best into the Valentine theme of a real white lace and red hearts love story". Teenagers, today, can read Forever... and either relate to it or anticipate their future first love.
Criticism and controversy
Judy Blume's novel Forever... has been subjected to greater censorship than any other book she has written. Forever... was banned from many schools due to its detailed depictions of sexual intercourse, implications of the homosexuality of the Artie character, and because the protagonist, Katherine, uses the birth control pill. Criticism of the novel often comes from religious groups and pro-abstinence groups who consider the use of 'the pill' unsuitable.
- "In recognifion of, alas, banned books", Fahrenheit 451: Banned Books, Pelham Library, 2006-09-28,
Judy Blume Forever Censored?.
- "IL, Elgin: Forever, by Judy Blume, Returned to School Libraris in IL District", YFen, National Coalition Against Censorship, 2002-01-23,
NCAC Applauds Decision To Return Judy Blume's "Forever" To Elgin, Illinois Middle School Libraries' Shelves.
- The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999, American Library Association.
- Milne, Ira. "Novels for Students". Retrieved 2011-03-05.
- Nilsen, Alleen. "Books for Young Adults: Love and the Teenage Reader". National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- Crown, Sarah (2005-06-08), "Interview: Judy Blume", Unlimited Books, London, UK: The Guardian.
- Sutton, Roger. "An Interview With Judy Blume: Forever...Yours". Retrieved 2011-03-05.
- Donelson, Ken. "Honoring the Best YA Books of the Year: 1964–1995". National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
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