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Forever . . .



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A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)

Judy Blume’s groundbreaking novel about first relationships, first love, and…the first time.

The bed is brass, covered with a patchwork quilt, and “nice and firm,” Michael says, “in case you’re interested.”

Katherine is interested.

Katherine and Michael are in love, and Katherine knows it’s forever—especially after she loses her virginity to him. But when they’re separated for the summer, she begins to have feelings for another boy. What does this say about her love for Michael? And what does “forever” mean, anyway? Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?


Chapter 1 1
Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys. She told me herself, the last time she was visiting her cousin, Erica, who is my good friend. Erica says this is because of Sybil’s fat problem and her need to feel loved—the getting laid part, that is. The genius I.Q. is just luck or genes or something. I’m not sure that either explanation is 100 percent right but generally Erica is very good at analyzing people.

I don’t know Sybil that well since she lives in Summit and we live in Westfield. Erica and I decided to go to her New Year’s party at the last minute for two reasons—one, because that’s when she invited us, and, two, we had nothing better to do.

It turned out to be a fondue party. There were maybe twenty of us sitting on the floor around a low table in Sybil’s family room. On the table were a couple of big pots of steaming liquid Swiss cheese and baskets of bread chunks. Each of us had a long two-pronged fork, to spear the bread, then dip it into the cheese. It tasted pretty good. I had gotten about two bites when this guy said, “You’ve got some on your chin.”

He was on Erica’s other side, sort of leaning across her. “You want me to wipe it off?” He held out his napkin.

I couldn’t tell if he was putting me on or what. So I told him, “I can wipe my own chin,” and I tried to swallow the bread that was still in my mouth.

“I’m Michael Wagner,” he said.

“So?” I answered, as Erica shot me a look.

She introduced herself to Michael, then tapped me on the head and said, “This idiot is my friend, Katherine. Don’t mind her… she’s a little strange.”

“I noticed,” Michael said. He wore glasses, had a lot of reddish-blond hair and a small mole on his left cheek. For some crazy reason I thought about touching it.

I looked away and went back to spearing chunks of bread. The guy on my other side said, “My name’s Fred. I live next door to Sybil. I’m a freshman at Dartmouth.” Unfortunately he was also a creep.

After a while I tuned him out but he didn’t know and kept blabbing away. I was more interested in what Michael was saying to Erica. I wondered where he went to school and hoped it was some place close, like Rutgers. Erica told him that we’re from Westfield, that we’re seniors, and that we’re spending the night at Sybil’s. Then Michael introduced her to somebody named Elizabeth and I turned around in time to see him put his arm around this pale dark-haired girl sitting next to him. I pretended to be interested in Fred the Creep after all.

At midnight Sybil flashed the lights on and off and Fred wished me a Happy New Year, then tried to stuff his tongue in my mouth. I kept my lips shut tight; while he was kissing me I was watching Michael kiss Elizabeth. He was much taller than I first thought and thin, but not skinny.

After the party we helped Sybil and her parents clean up and somewhere around 3:00 a.m. we trudged upstairs to bed. Sybil conked out as soon as her head hit the pillow but Erica and I had trouble getting to sleep, maybe because we were on the floor in sleeping bags, or maybe because Sybil was snoring so loud.

Erica whispered, “Michael’s a nice guy… don’t you think so?”

“He’s much too tall for you,” I told her. “You’d only come up to his belly button.”

“He might enjoy that.”

“Oh, Erica!”

She propped herself up on an elbow and said, “You like him, don’t you?”

“Don’t be silly… we barely met.” I rolled over, facing the wall.

“Yeah… but I can tell anyway.”

“Go to sleep!”

“He asked me for your last name and your phone number.”

I turned around. “He did?”

“Uh huh… but I guess you don’t care about that.” She buried herself inside her sleeping bag.

I gave her a half-hearted kick. Then we both laughed and fell asleep.

Erica and I have been friends since ninth grade. We’re a good pair because she is outspoken and uninhibited and I’m not. She says she has to be that way to compensate for her size. She’s just four-feet-ten—so when I said that she would come up to Michael’s belly button I wasn’t kidding. Everyone in her family is tiny. That’s how her great-grandfather got their last name. He came to this country from Russia, not speaking a word of English. So when he stepped off the boat and the man in charge asked him his name, he didn’t understand. Instead of just calling him Cohen or Goldberg, the way the immigration officers did with so many Jewish refugees, this man sized him up and wrote down Mr. Small. Erica swears if she ever marries she will choose someone huge so that if they decide to have children the kids will at least have a chance to grow to normal size.

Not that being little has hurt anyone in her family. Her mother is Juliette Small, the film critic. You can read her reviews in three national magazines. Because of her Erica is positive she’s going to get into Radcliffe, even though her grades aren’t that hot. I have a 92 average so I almost died when I saw my college board scores. They were below average. Erica scored much higher than I did. She doesn’t fall apart over really important things and I’m always afraid I might. That’s another difference between us.

The phone rang at noon the next day and woke me. Sybil jumped up and ran to answer it. When she came back she said, “That was Michael Wagner. He’s coming over to get his records.” She yawned and flopped back on her bed. Erica was still out cold.

I asked Sybil, “Does he go with that girl, Elizabeth?”

“Not that I know of… why, are you interested?”

“No… just curious.”

“… because I could drop a hint if you want me to…”

“No… don’t.”

“I’ve known him since kindergarten.”

“He’s in your class?”

“My homeroom.”

“Oh… I thought he was older.”

“He’s a senior… same as us.”

“Oh…” He seemed older. “Well… as long as I’m awake I might as well get dressed,” I said, heading for the bathroom.

Sybil and I were in the kitchen when the bell rang. I was picking raisins out of a breakfast bun, piling them in the corner of my plate. Sybil leaned against the refrigerator, spooning strawberry yogurt out of the carton.

She answered the front door and showed Michael into the kitchen. “You remember Katherine, don’t you?” she asked him.

“Sure… hi…” Michael said.

“Oh… hi,” I said back.

“Your records are still downstairs,” Sybil told him. “I’ll get them for you.”

“That’s okay,” Michael said. “I’ll get them myself.”

A few seconds later he called, “Who’s K.D.?”

“Me,” I answered. “Some of those albums are mine.” I went downstairs and started going through the pile. “Are yours marked?”


I was making a stack of K.D.s when he said, “Look…” and grabbed my wrist. “I came over here because I wanted to see you again.”

“Oh, well…” I saw my reflection in his glasses.

“Is that all you can say?”

“What am I supposed to say?”

“Do I have to write the script?”

“Okay… I’m glad you came over.”

He smiled. “That’s better. How about a ride? My car’s out front.”

“My father’s coming to pick me up at 3:00. I have to be back by then.”

“That’s okay.” He was still holding my wrist.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Guide for

Forever . . .

By Judy Blume

1. Describe the Danziger family. Cite scenes and conversations in the novel that reveal how close they are as a family. How are Katherine and Jamie different? In what ways do they admire each other? Occasionally Katherine appears jealous of Jamie’s many talents. At what point does she realize that Jamie looks up to her?

2. How might Katherine describe her friendship with Erica Small? Why does Katherine’s grandmother say that Erica would make a good politician? Compare and contrast Katherine’s and Erica’s views about sex. Why does Erica think it is a good idea to have sex before going to college?

3. Discuss the conversation between Katherine and her grandmother about Michael. (Chapter five) What are Grandma’s concerns about the relationship? Katherine’s grandmother works with Planned Parenthood in New York. How does this work give her a realistic view of teens who are sexually active?

4. Katherine has a very open conversation with her mother about sex. Explain what her mother means when she says, “‘Sex is a commitment.’” (Chapter ten)

5. Katherine’s mother says, “‘I expect you to handle it [sex] with a sense of responsibility.’” (Chapter ten). How does Katherine display a sense of responsibility? Grandma sends Katherine pamphlets about Planned Parenthood. How does this contribute to Katherine’s decision to seek birth control at the Margaret Sanger Clinic? Why do you think Judy Blume included “requirements for safe and responsible sex” in a later edition of the novel?

6. Early in their relationship, Michael asks Katherine if she is a virgin. Why does he say he needs to know? Discuss his response when she asks him if he is a virgin. How does she react when she learns that he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a girl he met on the beach in Maine?

7. Katherine is invited to go skiing with Michael in Vermont. Her parents agree when they learn that Sharon, Michael’s sister, and her husband will be there. Discuss the conversation between Katherine and her dad about the trip. Sharon says that Michael is vulnerable, and she worries about him getting hurt. How are these conversations similar?

8. What is Sybil’s role in the novel? Katherine and Erica go to the hospital to see Sybil and her baby girl. Discuss the conversation between them. What are Sybil’s reasons for giving the baby up for adoption? Discuss how Katherine might relay Sybil’s decision to her mother and grandmother.

9. Erica wants to have sex with Artie, but he doesn’t seem interested. Discuss his response when she asks him if he is gay. Artie is a very good actor and has been accepted to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Why does his father disapprove? What does Michael mean by his statement that “‘We can’t do anything to help Artie right now.’” (Chapter eleven)

10. At what point does Katherine begin to question a “forever” commitment to Michael? How does Michael react when she doesn’t answer his letters? Discuss the honest conversation she has with him. What is symbolic about the last two words of the novel: “‘Theo called’”?

11. This novel has been banned or challenged in every decade since its publication in 1975. The primary complaint is “sexual content.” How would you explain to censors the central theme of the novel? How does this theme explain the title of the book?

12. The reference to marijuana is another reason some people want the book banned. Michael’s sister and her husband smoke pot at the ski cabin in Vermont. Why is Katherine surprised that they are into weed? How does she respond when they offer it to her? Discuss ways to explain to censors that the focus should be on Katherine, not Sharon and her husband.

Guide written by Pat Scales, a retired middle and high school librarian who is currently a children’s and young adult literature consultant and specializes in curriculum and free speech issues.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

About The Author

Photo © Elena Seibert

Judy Blume, one of America’s most popular authors, is the recipient of the 2004 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of beloved books for young people, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (which celebrated fifty years in 2020), and novels for adult readers, including Wifey, Summer Sisters, and In the Unlikely Event. Her work has been translated into thirty-two languages. Visit Judy at or follow her on Twitter at @JudyBlume.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 29, 2014)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481414432
  • Grades: 9 and up
  • Ages: 14 - 99
  • Lexile ® HL590L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Awards and Honors

  • ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults

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