The New York Times

In Y.A., Where Has All the Good Sex Gone?

IN THE 1970S, WRITERS LIKE JUDY BLUME DEPICTED ADOLESCENT SEX AS NATURAL AND PLEASURABLE. NOW IT’S MORE OFTEN A DANGER ZONE.

“Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys.”

So begins Judy Blume’s “Forever,” the ur-text of “dirty” teenage books — read at countless sleepovers, banned in a thousand classrooms. Since its publication over four decades ago, it has been reliably controversial, but not because it is tawdry, or vulgar. The novel’s crime is that it depicts two ordinary teenagers, Katherine and Michael, who get to know each other and have sex — and nothing bad happens.

We are by now quite familiar with young adult works that use sex as a go-to for danger. On the Y.A. shelf of any bookstore or

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times6 min read
By the Book: Delia Owens
What does the author of “Where the Crawdads Sing” think you should read? Delia Owens returns to “Beloved” every now and then: “One sentence from Toni Morrison can inspire a lifetime of writing.”
The New York Times4 min read
Need Etiquette Tips for Cannabis? For Starters, Don't Call It 'Marijuana' or 'Weed.'
In “Higher Etiquette,” Lizzie Post — the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post — argues that it’s time for cannabis to move, in the public imagination, away from its surfer and “Cheech and Chong” image.
The New York Times7 min read
How to Disclose a Disability to Your Employer (and Whether You Should)
The invisible nature of my chronic illness protects me from a whole universe of discrimination and microaggressions, but it also insulates me from potential support. Of course, I acknowledge that my position is a privileged one. Some disabilities an