Quote 1

In the old days girls were divided into two groups—those who did and those who didn’t. My mother told me that. Nice girls didn’t, naturally. They were the ones boys wanted to marry. I’m glad those days are over but I still get angry when older people assume that everyone in my generation screws around.

Katherine narrates these lines in Chapter 5 right after her grandmother warns her about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. At this point, Michael and Katherine have been dating for five weeks and Michael struggles to be patient as Katherine takes time to decide whether she is ready to have sex. This passage establishes the popular opinion about pre-marital sex during the cultural moment when Forever takes place. Katherine’s parents lived in a time when whether a girl was sexually active was still a defining characteristic that determined, among other things, her place in society. Katherine is growing up in a much more permissive era, and her decision about whether to have sex is less freighted with judgment but not completely without it. In part because the previous generation was so different, Katherine still must grapple with societal presumptions. It is against this backdrop that Katherine makes the very personal decision of whether to have sex in her current relationship.

Quote 2

'I know . . . because I love you too,' I whispered into his chest. Saying it the first time was the hardest. There’s something so final about it. The second time I sat up and said it right to him. 'I love you, Michael Wagner.' 'Forever?' he asked.

'Forever,' I said.

This exchange between Katherine and Michael happens in Chapter 9 after they’ve pushed their sexual experimentation further. As they become more intimate, Katherine and Michael deal with two unfamiliar forces: emotional intimacy (love) and physical intimacy (sex). Love and sex overlap in relationships. Teens experiencing love and sex for the first time often confuse the two. Social constructs like the idea that people should only have sex with people they can promise to love for eternity puts enormous pressure on young people who are already overwhelmed by their burgeoning sexuality. Michael’s phrasing of forever as a question shows his uncertainty as well as his need for confirmation. Katherine finds the finality of the word love problematic. Katherine loves Michael, but she also senses the enormity society has placed on her decision and honors it in the moment. The dialogue is emblematic of why her decision to have sex is so difficult. Michael and Katherine use the word forever to prove that their feelings are genuine, but the idea that they could know how they will feel forever reveals their innocence and naivete.

Quote 3

I wanted to tell him that I will never be sorry for loving him. That in a way I still do - that maybe I always will. I'll never regret one single thing we did together because what we had was very special. Maybe if we were ten years older it would have worked out differently. Maybe. I think it’s just that I’m not ready for forever.

This passage occurs in the final chapter of the book when Michael and Katherine meet at a store after breaking up. Katherine leaves most of her thoughts unsaid, but in them lies the main idea of the novel. Katherine still feels intense emotions for Michael even after she’s become involved with Theo. This suggests that the love they experienced was not mere infatuation or lust. It was real love, even if it wasn’t forever. Though she may not have been ready for a forever relationship, she and Michael did create a connection that she can honestly say will likely stay with her forever. This description of what Katherine feels for Michael shows a more mature and realistic perspective than she demonstrated in Chapter 9 when she blurted out in a moment of passion that she would love Michael forever. Through the relationship, Katherine formed her understanding apart from society’s or her parents’ definition of what it means to love someone forever.