Shhhhh…My book from Amazon has arrived…I carefully remove it from the carton, giggling to myself as if I were a young teenager. I stick it under my shirt and slink into my room and then into the bathroom so I can study it. It has a different cover from the one that I remember. As I read the back cover, I run back to my bedroom door and lock it, simultaneously feeling a little guilty and a bit naughty.
I must have been about 14…and oh boy this book taught me things, on subjects I never spoke to my parents about. To this day the author is my hero. Judy Blume is her name and her books have stood the test of time, especially in my head. I remember choosing this book—Forever—from the library shelf. No one saw me enter my house with it back then, and my mother would not have cared to look anyway, but even so, I read it with the blanket covering my head.
The book’s story about young love is still in my head. Katherine and Michael are in high school and it’s her first sexual encounter with a boy. It goes into detail about their intimacy, and material of this nature was a first reading encounter for me.
Now I have my own teen daughter. I would love for her to fall in love with Judy—I feel close enough to her to refer to her by her first name—the same way I did. I’ve already exposed her to Judy’s middle grade novels, like Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret and Deenie, but this book spoke to me on a deeper level, sharing with me things that my mother never did.
To share or not to share…. I know my daughter knows about the birds and the bees, and we’ve discussed things in depth, and even watched more than enough R-rated movies together. I flip through the pages, and am surprised how familiar the dialogue and many of the scenes still sound. A friend my age told me that when she was young, Forever got passed around her sleep-away camp bunk and kids would recite lines from the book until whole passages were memorized.
I have made my decision. I want to share, even though I’m sure I’ll get eye rolling. Whether she appreciates Judy’s words the way I did decades ago, who knows? It’s a different time. Our kids are exposed to so much now – in school, on social media and Netflix, from their peers or from current teen books with far fewer filters – but maybe, just maybe, my daughter will appreciate Judy for the superhero she was then, and still is. It’s worth a try.