My feeling in the beginning was wait, this is America: we don’t have censorship, we have, you know, freedom to read, freedom to write, freedom of the press, we don’t do this, we don’t ban books. But then they did.
I read Forever by Judy Blume in the 6th grade. (Incidentally, that’s the same year I discovered the Flowers in the Attic series. I’m eternally grateful that I read Forever first; who knows what I would have thought of sex otherwise.) Of course I passed it along to my friends. One friend in particular kept getting “caught” with it (seriously, worst hider ever.) Her mother returned it to me twice. She told me if I gave it to her daughter again, she’d tell my mom. And I was like, “Lady, who do you think gave it to me?”
She wasn’t the first friend not allowed to hang out with me and she wouldn’t be the last.
Written in 1975, Forever is the very real, very intimate love story of high school students, Katherine and Michael. They meet at a party and rapidly fall in love. Can their love last? (Of course not, they are 17.) It was written at the request of her teenage daughter, Randy. Blume says, “She was reading all these books, where a girl succumbed [to sex], she would be punished, sometimes she would die. And Randy said, ‘Couldn’t there ever be a book where two nice kids do it and nobody has to die?'”
Michael and Katherine “do it” and no one dies!
WOW, does that make people angry! Forever is Blume’s most banned/challenged book (and this is the lady that wrote Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? and Deenie!)
Here are a few of the reasons why:
- Frequency of sexual activity and sexual descriptions
- Use of “four-letter” words
- Does not promote abstinence
- Does not promote monogamous relationships
- Demoralized marital sex
- Disobedience to parents is shown
- Talks about masturbation
- Talks about birth control
- Lack of moral tone
- Sexual passages inappropriate for young people
So. I guess it’s the sex. Thankfully for every censorious jerk, there are a million women who were educated and touched by her books. And a lot of those women became librarians, who write letters. Get your Kleenex.
Amanda Palmer wrote a song about Judy Blume!
Now go read something sexy!