Are You There, Reader?

Graphic courtesy of the American Library Association.

Graphic courtesy of the American Library Association.

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.

Judy Blume, The Guardian (July 2014)

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
  • Sexuality
  • 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!




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6 responses to “Are You There, Reader?

  1. Reblogged this on Library of Erana and commented:
    What causes a book to be banned? You’d be surprised…

  2. I never realized it, but my schools banned that book before I got there. The first time I saw this book was the first day a new librarian began working at the public library. I was in my twenties! Deep South mothers have an odd double standard that takes precedence over well written works.

  3. Banned books do what exactly? It makes me want to read them. Maybe I’m odd but even a series of bad book reviews has me curious to read the book. I may like what the reviewer didn’t. Plus I want to see how bad it is. Thanks for the post. I will now be checking out Forever!

  4. Books are banned because thought proceeds form and sometimes the society isn’t ready for the change. Works with sexual themes that are banned generally aren’t really pieces of great writing. Controversial sadly doesn’t translate to high quality.
    Wondering which books were banned this year ?

    • Thanks for your comments! The current year’s list is most likely still being compiled, because the year isn’t over yet. Each year’s data is released as soon as it is complete and compiled.

  5. hjwb45

    Reblogged this on Wynton Burke, Writer and commented:
    The thought of books being banned is unacceptable simply because society is continually evolving. What is considered acceptable now, i.e., moral, decent, in good taste is constantly changing. Society as a human entity grows and matures. Censorship is any form is repugnant because it reflects an inability by a community to rationally judge a piece of writing. Unfortunately, there are people who because of religious and moral restraints cannot see a work for anything other than an insult to their particular view of how society should function. An example: In 2003, A Church group from Greenville, Michigan burned the Harry Potter series of books by J.K.Rowling, on the basis that it concerned itself with the dark arts. The group felt it should be made known that the were written about witchcraft.

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