October 2, 2010
"Forever" and Ever, Amen
If you are the one person left in the world not familiar with Judy Blume's Forever, let me tell you a little bit about it: Katherine and Michael are seniors in high school. They date, they make-out, and *spoiler alert* eventually they have sex, which, I suppose, is why there are so many attempts have the book banned from libraries all over the country.
I speak as the mother of a teen when I say I am baffled by folks who want to pretend that teens aren't having sex despite the fact that in 2006, 750,000 teenage girls in the U.S. were knocked up, resulting in 435,000 unplanned babies. I'm sure that nearly every one of the parents of those teens also thought, not my girl.
As a child of a teen mother, I've seen first hand that pregnancy happens to nice girls, and while my mother regularly reminds me that she wouldn't change her past, I watched her travel a long and arduous road toward adulthood.
Do I want my daughter to have sex in high school? Certainly not. Am I going to let her read Forever? Heck, yes. And here's why: The sex scene in Forever is explicit, but it's real, not at all titillating romance and passion. Katherine and Michael's first attempt at sex is on the floor, on a towel. It's cold, and Michael finishes before he's even started.
When they finally get it all together, it's fairly disappointing for Katherine, and that's what I love so much about it. Not only does Katherine insist that Michael use a condom (she had previously discussed birth control with her grandmother) she expects to have an orgasm and is let down when she doesn't.
"'I'm sorry,' he said, 'I couldn't hold off.' He stopped moving. 'It wasn't any good for you, was it?'
'Everybody says the first time is no good for a virgin. I'm not disappointed.' But I was. I wanted it to be perfect."
Some women, myself included, have sex for years before realizing there's something in it besides the undivided attention of another person. Go, Katherine!
Wait, there's more, and for me this is the clincher: Katherine's parents warn her that despite the love she feels for Michael, she's young, and her feelings are going to change, and in the end, they're right. Ha! How I love to be right. Katherine meets a cute boy at tennis camp and breaks Michael's heart.
Just imagine how Katherine's life would have changed if she had not known to use birth control, if she had parents who didn't talk to her about sex, just told her not to have it, if there were no Judy Blumes out there for her.