This is the Judy Blume book where they fuck, and where the characters use the word “fuck” kind of a lot for 1975, which made this book a pretty big deal when it came out. It’s a story about love and sex—those youthful ideals we all have before we discover what relationships are, get adjusted, then move on—a lot for 200 pages. As a guilty pleasure, most of it holds up pretty well aside from some clichéd issues, with Blume perfectly capturing the magnitude of 18 year-old Katherine and Michael’s first love and sexual fumbling.
A high school presidential election pits a goody two-shoes overachiever against a clueless jock and his rebellious younger sister, with one teacher viewing the race as a microcosm of who gets ahead in life and why. Election shows how much these contests seem to matter in the moment but afterwards feel trite—it explores rivalries based on jealousy, social class, love, popularity, and the glory of the spotlight. The novel’s rapid switches between narrators (often in mid-scene) are among the most effective I’ve ever read, and keep the novel constantly moving. Read this even if you’ve seen the movie.