Friday, June 3, 2016

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume-what I am currently reading...

I am reading a new book by Judy Blume and it struck me that I have been reading Judy Blume books for forty years, which means she has been writing them for at least that long. I will have to check on that.  Her first book was published in 1969.  Her last adult book, Summer Sisters, was published in 1998, so it has been awhile since I had read one of her books.

I confess that I am not so young that I read them as a child but rather first as a teacher, a young teacher of course.  And I followed her as she moved from children's books to young adult books to real adult books.  

Her books were incredibly popular in the 70's and later of course, but she also had books censored as she was not afraid to discuss religion or sex, not something that was done much in children's or young adult's books in those years.  Moving from high school and Montreal and to Vancouver and to elementary school teaching, her books such as Fudge always happily surfaced in my students' reading.

I came back from a student camping trip probably in 1979, to be greeted by an apologetic lovely  substitute teacher, who happened to be an Anglican minister's wife.  I was teaching in a high school with students with learning issues. Some of the girls had asked her to read Forever aloud to them and as she started reading it, she realized she couldn't do it, the content was a bit too adult for her to feel comfortable reading aloud.  She was a bit shocked as the book had come from the school library.  She even had confessed to the principal who wasn't too worried.  When they asked me to read it aloud to them I didn't get very far before I said, "Sorry, you will have to read it on your own," and they did.  She was a great reading motivator.  

I even was fortunate to hear her speak and meet her some years later at a reading conference and I even met her sixth grade teacher as we were lined up to get an autograph.  She was thrilled to see this teacher.  Her book, Starring Sally Jane Freedman as Herself,  was based on the two years she spent as a child living in Miami Beach, when she had this teacher, who told me Judy was quiet and not that memorable in sixth grade.

I am thoroughly enjoying this book as I have enjoyed many of the others.  She really is a gifted story teller.  

And her latest adventure at 78 is running a bookstore!! 

This book is her first adult novel in many years and is based on an event in her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  A plane crashed and her dad had to help identify bodies based on their dental records.  At the time as a child, it seemed like a very mysterious event, and obviously stayed in her mind for over 60 years.  The plane hasn't crashed yet in my reading but I am totally engaged with her characters just as my students and I have been all those  years.