Like almost everyone else my age, I grew up reading the Judy Blume books, even though I am, alas, not related to her (and although I do have an aunt Judy Blum!) So as soon as I saw Ms. Blume was coming out with a new novel for adults, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT, I did exactly what a book blogger suggested I might do: “Admit it, you pre-ordered as soon as I said ‘Judy Blume,’ didn’t you?”
Indeed I did. And as soon as the novel arrived, I plunged into it with an alacrity I’ve rarely felt since I was a little girl sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Watching Bookshop in Montclair, NJ, sampling dozens of books as I tried to decide which one I’d spend my precious allowance on that week.
I really enjoyed IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT, which was like Blume’s FOREVER crossed with a really good disaster movie. (From me, that’s a huge compliment.)
Plus, there’s something deeply familiar about reading a Judy Blume book. As Samantha Bee, a cast member on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, said in an article on Blume for The New York Times, “They’re all so deeply familiar to me; it’s like they’re in my DNA.”
Many of my peers found a sense of belonging in the Judy Blume books for adolescents, like ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET and FOREVER and IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD and TIGER EYES–to name just a few of Blume’s 29 novels. Blume’s trademark themes of adolescent sexuality and navigating social situations reassured a lot of young readers that they weren’t alone in their feelings.
I felt the opposite. To me, the Blume books were a primer to how other, “normal” kids thought. I never felt like a normal kid, so it was useful for me to have the Blume window to look through and imagine I knew how those other, normal kids were feeling, what their concerns were.
But a great draw of the Blume books is providing a link among their readers. Even for a kid who felt like an outsider, I found kinship with another Blume aficionado. I’ll again quote Samantha Bee, who summed it up best for me when she said, “I know that for a lot of people the sexuality in the books was an important part of it, but for me it was more about the social relationships. I really did feel like an outsider for most of my life.”
To read the New York Times article about what Blume’s books mean, to our cultural conversation and to six writers, please click here.
To buy IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT, please click here.