The saga of Katherine’s and Michael’s love is a joyous one, filled with all the wonder of “the first time.” They meet on New Year’s Eve and become completely involved with each other. It’s an idyllic affair—until they’re separated that summer…
A 1996 Winner of the A.L.A. Margaret A. Edwards Award for Outstanding Literature for Young Adults
This book was first published in 1975. My daughter Randy asked for a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die. 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 (illegal in the U.S. until the 1970s), sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. At least one life ruined. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual. Neither took responsibility for their actions. I wanted to present another kind of story—one in which two seniors in high school fall in love, decide together to have sex, and act responsibly.
The seventies were a time when sexual responsibility meant preventing unwanted pregnancy. Today, sexual responsibility also means preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. In this book Katherine visits a clinic and is given a prescription for The Pill. Today, she would be told it is essential to use a condom along with any other method of birth control. If you’re going to become sexually active, then you have to take responsibility for your own actions. So get the facts first.
For information go to Planned Parenthood’s website: www.teenwire.com. Another informative website is: www.sexetc.org. This one is written by teens, for teens. You’ll also find a listing of other helpful websites and books.
There are sexually explicit scenes in this book and it shouldn’t be shelved in the children’s section of the library or bookstore. At the time it was written there was no formal category of “Young Adult,” but surely that’s how it would be published today. Kids are always asking, How old do I have to be before I can read this book? An impossible question to answer. Some kids are ready at twelve, some not until later. They usually know themselves. If it makes them feel uncomfortable, they can put the book down. If they have questions it helps if they can ask an adult (who’s also read the book) to answer them. In recent editions I’ve added a letter to the reader similar to this note.
The title was always there.
My daughter was fourteen when I dedicated this book to her. Today she’s a grown woman with a married son of her own. I’m glad that some things, like falling in love, never change.
“A convincing account of first love.”
–The New York Times Book Review