Jonnell Simpson is the LexisNexis Account Representative who has worked with us at the Law School for many years. She chose a book by Judy Blume after laboring to decide which of the many books on the list she liked the most.
Forever, by Judy Blume (published in 1975), is seventh on the list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999.
Looking over the list of the most frequently banned/challenged books, it was hard to pick just one to write about. My first instinct was to write about a favorite classic, like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or The Color Purple. Something I’d recommend as required reading in a classroom. But no, I’m going with “Forever” by Judy Blume. Every time I see that book, I think back to my eighth-grade year, when I owned the one, prized copy in our classroom (it never occurred to my parents to pay attention to what I read, but it also likely never occurred to them that such a book for young people existed).
My friends and I passed that book around, dog-earing the “good parts” until the cover fell off and had to be taped back on. We had never read anything like it. Not to give away my age, but it was before cable TV and the internet. Twelve and thirteen-year olds were a little more innocent in those days. For most of us it was the first time we’d read a book that not only addressed the feelings we were starting to have, but acknowledged them as normal, not shameful.
A few years ago I re-read the book after a friend asked if I thought it was OK for her thirteen-year old daughter to read. Rereading it as an adult, I was struck by how well the book held up. Judy Blume perfectly captures the journey of teenage love (and just being a teenage girl). The characters were still believable, the inevitable sad ending all too real. I told my friend to give her daughter a copy and to buy one for herself.