MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Author J. Courtney Sullivan has been revisiting an adolescent reading obsession about first love. To this day, Sullivan confesses she can still reread it in a single sitting and enjoy every single page. Her confession is part of our series My Guilty Pleasure, where authors recommend a book they're embarrassed to love.
Ms. J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN (Author, "Commencement"): In fifth grade, I was a member of an all-girls book club. We met by the tetherball court during recess and read novels aloud. Okay, just the dirty parts.
By seventh grade, the book club had disbanded. That was the year I discovered "Forever." The author was Judy Blume.
It was 1993. I didn't know then that "Forever" had caused an uproar when it was released in 1975 or that some people called it smut or that it would go on to be one of the most banned books in America. Had I realized this, I would have read it much sooner.
Once I turned the first page, I was hooked. It was the narrator, Katherine's description of a boy at a party that did it: My name's Fred. I live next door to Sybil. I'm a freshman at Dartmouth. Katherine continues: Unfortunately, he was also a creep.
At the same party, she meets Michael, a fellow high school senior. They fall in love. There is not a hint of dot, dot, dot here. Katherine and Michael talk explicitly about their sexual desires. The resulting bedroom scenes are as detailed as any clueless adolescent girl could hope for.
I read "Forever" in a single sitting, sometime between my first crush and my first kiss. I was under the covers with a flashlight, listening for footsteps on the stairs.
There is real, awkward, friendly intimacy between the main characters in "Forever." I am 28 now, and I know couples my age who can't communicate as well about their hopes, their fears, their families and their foreplay.
What shocks me is that in the age of sexting, Bristol Palin and online porn, "Forever" is still considered controversial. At its core, it's about female teenagers who make responsible birth control choices, who, when they're ready, have sex on their own terms instead of for the gaze or approval of men. What's so shocking about that? I may have come for the scandal, but I stayed for the feminist lesson.
While rereading "Forever" on the subway recently, I could feel the guy beside me skimming over my shoulder. I glanced at him. He gave me a strange look. I hardly cared.
NORRIS: J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of "Commencement."
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