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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.
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 got together with Erica; they split up after he told her he was going to kill himself, but he didn't harm himself. He is a depressed teenager who doesn't know what to do with his life. He shows his depression when he attempts to hang himself from his shower curtain rod but fails and gets himself hospitalized for the rest of the novel.
Katherine and Michael go on a skiing trip, where they plan to have sex, but Katherine has her period, and they are disappointed. Michael teaches Katherine how to hold his penis (nicknamed "Ralph") and how to rub it correctly. When Katherine and Michael do have sex on Michael's sister's living room floor in her apartment, 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 than Michael. Theo calls her Kat, because everyone else is doing it, even though she is highly irritated with the nickname. She shares a kiss with him, and takes responsibility for breaking the news to Michael when he comes on a surprise visit. Michael realizes she has found someone else, and Katherine gives him back the forever necklace before he took off. She realizes that she could get over it. The book ends with Katherine's mother giving her a message that Theo called for her.
Katherine Danziger Protagonist of the book. Katherine is almost 18, and turns 18 in the book, and is a senior in high school 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 split off with Michael she started 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 wanted to make love to Katherine, but tried not to pressure her into it too much and respected her for not being ready, until she was ready to let go of her virginity. He nicknamed his penis "Ralph." They manage to hold a relationship together for a couple of months before it fell 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 wanted her to get over with it.
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. Erica breaks up with him at a party after he scared her by saying he will commit suicide, and two days later he attempts to, resulting in him not graduating from High School and his hospitalization for the rest of the book.
Sybil Davison Katherine's friend (and Erica's cousin) who later gets pregnant when having loveless intercourse because she wanted to have experience in giving birth. She didn't tell her parents because she knew 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. She 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 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, and started a relationship with.
Criticism and controversy
Forever... was banned from many schools due to its detailed depictions of sexual intercourse, implications of the homosexuality from Artie, 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.
- "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.
- 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. JSTOR 820644.
- "Forever". IMDb.
- "Get Lit". Sacred Fools Theater Company.