In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

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Miri is a teenager in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  She lives with her single mom and her grandmother and uncle and has as ordinary a life as she is able to, having never met her father and now knowing very much about him.  One day, as she is coming out of a movie theater with her mother, she witnesses the first of 3 airplane crashes within a span of a few months, and it turns her life upside down.  Not only does it create anxiety for Miri, but it also has a profound effect on her best friend, Natalie, whose whole personality seems to transform.

I’m having a hard time writing this blog entry.  Ever since reading Are You There God It’s Me Margaret a hundred years ago, I’ve loved Judy Blume.  Her writing was groundbreaking in so many ways — speaking about topics that were so taboo —  bringing them into the conversation and normalizing them.  Her contributions have been monumental.  On the other hand, though, I did not love this particular book.  While the story is interesting and it does build up to a crescendo that kept me reading, there are just too many characters, the narrator voice switches too often, and the characters are drawn a little stiffly and without much warmth.

I think the book is still worth reading — as a time piece.  It does capture an era, with subtle references to McCarthyism and Packards and the dress of the 1950’s.  It does capture a time when life was considered simpler, although I think that she makes it clear that it was not necessarily so.  And of course, it’s still the iconic Judy Blume!

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