Where Does Judy Blume’s Forever Fit In the Teen Section?

Photo taken from wikipedia.org
Photo taken from wikipedia.org

“Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys.”

So many realistic fiction teen novels seem to be one of two types:

  • either the quirky misfit protagonist clumsily makes his/her way through the journey of highschool, while stumbling upon love (Speak, Eleanor & Park, Thirteen Reasons Why, Looking for Alaska)
  • or else the beautiful popular girls get into all sorts of exciting trouble while experimenting with sexual intimacy and living in impossible luxury (Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, The Clique, The Au Pairs).

However, Judy Blume’s groundbreaking teen novel Forever seems to land somewhere in the middle. Katherine certainly isn’t a typical teen misfit, but she isn’t living the glamorous life of a teen celebrity either. By shifting the main focus away from issues of social standing, bullying, and alcohol/drugs (which so often accompany and distract from the topic of teen sexuality), Judy Blume was able to approach the issue of teen love and sex in a fresh and realistic way.

Even after the opening sentence, you know exactly what you’re getting into with this novel. But Blume isn’t just using sex to sell. She’s exploring the concept in a realistic, safe way. She’s exploring it in a way that will both entertain and enlighten her young adult readers. Along with the accurate and ever-entertaining portrayal of overwhelming teen passion and nonsensical love, Katherine displays some extremely mature qualities. She practices safe sex, she is discerning and sure of herself, and at points quite insightful.

This middle-ground portrayal of teen sexuality is as delicate as Looking for Alaska, and as bold as Pretty Little Liars. I would certainly include this book on a recommended reading list for teens who enjoy any type of realistic young adult fiction.

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