Tuesday, August 4, 2015
In the Unlikely Event - by Judy Blume
Judy Blume did a lot a research in order to write this novel about real life events that took place in 1951-1952 when three planes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey over a two month period. The story is of lost lives, and dashed dreams. It is also about hope and community and moving on. Fans of Judy Blume know well that she has never forgotten what it was like to be a child, or a teenager. This book demonstrates that she also has not forgotten the thrill of first love, the rush of first sexual excitement, or the devastation of first heartbreak, or what it feels like to lose a friend.
Ms. Blume thanks five librarians by name, and three different libraries in her acknowledgements. In this work she also created characters who were book lovers, and library users. Smart Daisy Dupree loves to read and to give books as gifts. She uses the library a lot, but "the bookshop is for books [she] just has to own." Former first-grade teacher Jo Foster always has a stack of library books ready to read to her two daughters at bedtime. Their babysitter Miri Ammerman, fantasizes an alternate reality in which Jo took the girls "someplace, to the library maybe..." after a plane crashes into their house and kills one of the young girls. Miri also uses the convenient "I'm going to the library" excuse when she decides to get her hair styled and cut like Elizabeth Taylor's so as not to have her mother Rusty ask a lot of questions, or forbid her from doing it. And when Miri runs into her boyfriend with an older woman on her way home from school she wishes for a "do-over" in which she would take a different route, or maybe go to the library. Writing this I realize that it seems that Miri thinks about using the library a lot, but it is unclear whether she actually ever went. She mentions a lecture her stepsister gave at the library on "channeling your past lives" during one of her book tours, but even there we are not sure if Miri attended. We do know Miri's mother used a "penny library" (presumably a subscription library?) to check out From Here to Eternity.
Blume has created sympathetic, strong characters who also have regrets and flaws. This well- researched work was hard to put down.