Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From the Vault: Forever...

Total score this weekend: I was at my local used bookstore and picked up a 1975 copy of FOREVER by Judy Blume for 25 cents. I actually squeed. Yes, the sound I thought I could never quite make burst from my diaphragm and scared the beejezus out of the poor kid behind the counter.

FOREVER was one of those life-changer books for me. In 1982, my progressive 6th grade teacher stuck it in the middle of a pile of more Catholic-school approved books she'd collected for me to read over Christmas break. The title intrigued me so I dug in. For a girl used to Nancy Drew's chaste kisses with her prepster boyfriend Ned, I was blown away. There's sex. Fairly explicit sex. A girl goes on the pill. A guy names his penis Ralph for heaven's sake. I think I read some passages twice (OK, maybe five or six times.), in complete shock. People were allowed to write about this stuff? I was barely allowed to acknowledge sex existed.

Judy Blume wrote about the things we were afraid to ask our parents about. Heck, my friends and I didn't even talk about sex with each other. I didn't necessarily feel more confident after reading FOREVER, but I definitely felt more normal. And, for a 12-year-old girl, that was pretty darn amazing.

So...which book changed your life?


  1. I loved that book! In fact, I just reread it a few months ago. That's awesome that your teacher gave it to you.

  2. Yes, it was pretty cool for my teacher to give it to me...what wasn't cool was that my mom found it under my pillow and chewed the teacher out big-time for giving her daughter "such filth." Uh-huh.

    What did you think of the book reading as an adult, Lisa?

  3. Despite my adoration of all things Judy Blume, I can't believe I've never read this.

    Are You There God, it's me, Margaret, though...OMG, life-changer!!

    And it's funny b/c I lived in New Jersey at the time, and in school, they taught 'family living,' a combo of health and sex ed, every year...starting in third grade.

    So the ideas presented in the Are You There God were not new to me...it's just, for the first time, I was reading about someone just.like.me. I loved that.

  4. oooh awesome! i think the most amazing book i read as a kid was Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.

    that, and The Giver.


  5. I attended a strict Catholic school and loved Judy Blume, but my life-changer book was probably Go Ask Alice. I had to sneak it into the house and think I was in shock the whole time I read it (I was in sixth or seventh grade)! It was the first time I think I realized that people existed who were very different from me.

  6. Probably Dracula because my dad was so anti-anything dark that the violence of it was amazing.

  7. I'm going to say that as a younger girl, Are You There God? It's Me Margaret was a complete favorite. I couldn't believe (but loved the fact) that the whole period thing was totally an issue for her. It was so honest!!

    But I think the first time I read 'How The Light Gets In' by MJ Hyland was a real turning point as far as being attracted to 'edgier' YA goes.

    My life also changed after reading Pet Semetary in sixth grade. I swore every night that Zelda was going to crawl into my room and get me.

  8. That is too cool. I always scout for the old Judy Blume paperbacks, too, because the new covers are so depressing.

    For me, it was Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, when I was 15. It started me on a whole fantasy life that continues to this day, of the decadent South and dark heros.

  9. Monica, Tahereh, Amy--Every so often I'll be at the grocery store or the library or wherever, and "I must, I must, I must increase my bust" runs through my head. Weird, huh?

    Kristi--I remember that book!! Powerful stuff.

    Little Miss J and Alexa--too funny that you guys are thinking along the same lines!