I ask her whether she was aware when she wrote Forever - at once her most loved and most reviled book - of the effect it would have. She shakes her head. 'No, no, no. Who knows things like that? If you do, then you are not going to meet with success because it's going to be so contrived.' She says she wrote the book for her teenage daughter: 'She asked me for a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die,' recalls Blume. 'She had read several novels about teenagers in love. If they had sex, the girl was always punished - an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty trip to a relative in another state, a grisly abortion, sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual.'
For the rest of Melissa Whitworth’s interview with Blume, click here.
I’m not sure that I ever read Forever. But I do vividly recall being taunted with sexual terminology from it by one of the popular girls in my sixth grade class along the following lines:
Popular girl: Do you know what _____ means?
Me: Of course I know what _____ means.
Popular girl: Tell me what it means then.
Because, of course, I had no idea what _____ meant.
However, I had read all of the Blume books that were available in the children’s department of the library (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Deenie; and, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t all stand out in my memory), and my experience with the sixth-grade bully didn’t sour me on those. It just made me determined to find out what _____ meant. All of which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to get a copy of Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, a collection of essays by noted female authors about Blume's enduring influence on their lives and work. Perhaps I should have a go at writing such an essay myself…