One book that had been on my summer reading list is In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume’s latest book. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since I first read Blubber. I must’ve been 8 or 9, found the book in the school library, and went on to read every book she’s ever written. Millions of kids have read her books, and they’ve continued to be popular with kids since they were first published. This latest book was something her fans had been looking forward to. I finally just finished this book, and just like all the others I read of hers, this one did not disappoint!
This latest book focuses on a series of plane crashes in New Jersey, which is where she grew up. Being from there, she remembered the real plane crashes that her book is based on. Beginning in 1951, these crashes kind of shaped who she was as a young girl, just as the characters in her book are changed by these experiences. Remembering some similarly traumatic events I witnessed when I was growing up, I realize how impressionable I was. This is the focus of the early part of the story, Miri, her boyfriend, and friend Natalie, who were teenagers at the time of a plane crash in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Reading this, I am reminded of other characters who were shaped by similar experiences. In Stand by Me, which originated as a short story in Stephen King’s Different Seasons, the 4 boys in the story make a special journey just to see a dead body. This experience shapes them, and kind of binds them for life. I recently read Paper Towns (and now can’t wait for the movie!), and the two main characters, Margo and Quentin are neighbors and as children also see a dead body. Again, this is a memory they’ll never forget, and something that creates a special bond between them.
Just after the book’s release Blume was interviewed on NPR, and during the interview they included radio coverage of one of the actual crashes that’s depicted in the book. That was really interesting, and kind of illustrated the way those events shaped her life, as well as the lives of her characters in this book.
As a kid, I read all of her books, and when I got older I wanted to read her adult books. I loved them all, and was so happy when this book came out. Any other Blume fans out there? What was your first JB book as a kid? As an adult?