In the spirit of Banned Books Week, StorySnoops is hosting a retrospective of some of our favorite “frequently-challenged” author interviews and book reviews. BBW is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. It highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Check out this ALA timeline, showing significant banned and challenged books over the past 30 years. These are some of our all-time favorites—can you imagine someone denying you access to these books?
I don’t know about you, but when I was in middle school, I thought I was getting away with murder when I read Forever, by Judy Blume. Did my mother even know what this book was about? There, in black and white, was a description of the forbidden act that everyone was talking about. The teens in this book were doing it and I got read about it in minute detail. It was romantic. It was steamy. It was forbidden. Or so I thought.
Now that I have re-read the book as a parent, I see the story from a whole new perspective. First of all, Judy Blume is an absolute genius. We all thought this was the sex book. Nope. It’s really the wait-for-the-right-boy-and-use-birth-control book. That is the genius part. The story is crafted in such a way that girls want to read positive messages that they may not want to hear from their parents. So for the price of exposing your daughter to some pretty explicit love scenes (and wouldn’t you rather she know what she’s getting herself into anyway?), you get wonderful messages about waiting for the right person, and the importance of talking to your family, and acting responsibly.
Yes, it’s still pretty steamy. Yes, the boy names his male equipment “Ralph.” But the themes in this classic are still relevant today, even thirty-seven years after it was written.
You can find the rest of our Best of Banned Books Week series here, with entries being added all week. Come back tomorrow for the StorySnoops interview with Forever author Judy Blume–it’s not to be missed!