Forever

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Forever Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Real look at first love (and sex) -- a teen classic.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 59 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Through Katherine's experience, teen readers will get a good sense of what  to expect during an OB/GYN visit. Author Judy Blume also writes an opening note to readers explaining that when she wrote the book, "sexual responsibility meant preventing unwanted pregnancy. Today, sexual responsibility also means preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including a potentially fatal one -- HIV/AIDS." 

 

Positive Messages

In a world where there is so much sexual posing on TV and in movies, this book offers an excellent way to thoughtfully explore the sensitive issue of talking about sex with your teen.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Whether or not to have sex is a decision that needs to be made thoughtfully, and the characters in the book approach their decisions with deliberation. Not only do Katherine and Michael have a real relationship, but Katherine thinks carefully about her choice to have sex.

Violence

Michael's best friend tries to hang himself.

Sex

This is a book that explores teen sexuality, so it's appropriate that there's lots of sex in it. Katherine has sex with Michael. Katherine visits Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills -- and also has discussions about sex with her mother, grandmother, and best friend. Another character, who has had many sexual partners, gets pregnant and has a baby.

Language

The characters swear, including "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Michael gets drunk with Katherine's best friend. Some characters smoke marijuana, and Katherine admits to trying it once.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is often challenged and even banned because of its depictions of teen sex. But it remains one of the best ways of discussing this very sensitive subject with your very sensitive teens. It deals frankly and responsibly with tough questions. Katherine has sex with her boyfriend, talks frankly about his penis, visits Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills, and discusses sex with her mother, grandmother, and best friend. She also deals with other adult issues: Michael's best friend tries to hang himself; another character, who has had many sexual partners, gets pregnant and has a baby; and Katherine's grandfather dies. There's some drinking, and some characters smoke marijuana. Readers who are mature enough for the content will find a very realistic portrayal of first love -- and a thoughtful protagonist who considers carefully before deciding to enter a sexual relationship. There are plenty of opportunities for parents to use this book to talk about their own values about sex, birth control, teen pregnancy, and more.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written bybadtvaddict July 3, 2009

Great honest look at "doing it" for the first time

I read this book when I was a teen, and I really appreciated th honesty that Judy Blume infuses in her characters. The situations are definitely advanced, and... Continue reading
Adult Written byHaleyWyman18 March 11, 2020

16+

I read this for a banned book project in my English class. I really liked it. I'll be 18 friday but. The book is very sexual but like it should be read by... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 21, 2019

Michel=ugggggghhhh

The main character makes it very clear to her boyfriend, Michel, that she isn’t ready to have sex. At one point she needs to change, and she makes him promise h... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bypink.book.worm August 11, 2017

Forever scarred my memory

It was a good book but, I think it was a little bit too graphic. Especially since it was in the tweens section. It was a good read but I skipped all the parts a... Continue reading

What's the story?

Katherine is a high school senior when she meets -- and quickly falls in love with -- Michael. Her parents grow concerned about how much time they're spending together -- and it's true that they're together whenever possible. Soon they even begin a sexual relationship. But with high school ending -- and grown-up problems just beginning -- will their young love be able to last?

Is it any good?

This classic from the '70s may seem tame compared with some of today's young adult literature, but readers will still appreciate Judy Blume's honest depiction of young love. Some of the language is dated, but Katherine and Michael are both believable characters. While there are depictions of sex, there's a lot more here, too. Not only do Katherine and Michael have a real relationship, but Katherine is thoughtful about her decision to have sex.

Katherine has some open conversations, including one in which her mother tells her: "Sex is a commitment ... once you're there you can't go back to holding hands." Blume opens newer editions of the book reminding readers that things have changed since she wrote FOREVER: "Today, sexual responsibility also means preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS which can kill you." Whatever your family's values, you can use Forever to start many conversations with your kids, from your own beliefs about premarital sex to your thoughts about book censorship.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why this book is considered controversial. It was ranked as the eighth most-challenged book in the 1990s, according to the American Library Association. Why do some adults think teens can't handle the material in the book? What do kids think their parents worry about?  

  • This book was written in the '70s -- how have attitudes about teens and sex continued to change since then? What causes these changes in attitudes? Is it media or something else? Do you think today's teens feel pressured to have sex earlier than their parents?  

  • What do you think of Katherine's parents' attitudes toward dating and sex? This conversation might provide a good opportunity to discuss your own values. 

Book details

For kids who love great female characters

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