A book set in High School: Forever by Judy Blume
Let me start by saying that Judy Blume was an important influence upon my childhood. I remember reading her books as a kid, and they answered so many of the questions I was too afraid to ask the adults in my life. I found her books funny, relatable, and knowledgeable. Ms. Blume definitely knows her audience. I decided to read this book because it was one of the few that I had never come across in my youth. Reading it now, I definitely wish it had; though controversial when written due to its explicit sexual content, it forces the reader to think about the ramifications of being sexually active in a very convincing way. Most teenagers will be like the main character and won’t really want to hear what the adults in their lives have to say. The warnings about sex will fall on deaf ears because teenagers view themselves as invincible. It will never happen to me! Through reading this story, teenagers are able to view these ramifications through Katherine’s perspective which is much more relatable, making the message (one would think) more poignant and impactful.
Had I read this as a young adult, it would have been an excellent experience for me that would have probably saved me some heartache in later life. Reading it now, though, was mildly uncomfortable. I have passed into the “adult” side of life and I felt slightly creepy reading about sex from the perspective of a teenager. There were some serious cringe moments as Katherine explores her sexuality and has the typical bumbles we all go through (but don’t really want to relive). Also, her immaturity and self-centeredness (which, again, we all go through) are a little harder to relate to as an adult who has (hopefully) moved past this part of their life. Some YA reads I can really get into—Harry Potter, the Divergent series, etc. and it doesn’t feel like I am reading something meant for YA audiences. This novel is not like that—it is very clearly for YA and that’s OK, just be aware going into it.
The story follows narrator Katherine during her senior year of high school. She meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party and they fall in love. For both of them, it seems that this is the first serious relationship that they’ve had. Katherine, a virgin, goes back and forth on whether or not Michael is “the one” or if she should continue to wait for the “right guy.” The book tracks their relationship throughout the rest of their last year as children before leaving to become college students, and it asks many questions about love, sex, and friendship that young people are often afraid to consider. It’s a great read for any young adult who is in or is considering being in a serious relationship.