Friday, August 10, 2007

Growing up with Judy.

Ooh! So I've been meaning to do a Judy Blume post now for several days, and things keep popping up about her everywhere. Publicity everywhere, and it's not even that she's come out with something new but that someone else wrote something about her!

Okay, let's backtrack. If you're a girl (and even if you're not) who grew up somewhere around the past 20 years, you will remember Judy. You will remember when Fudge swallowed the turtle (that was very sad) and the x-ray with the little guy inside. You will remember the mantra that would change your life by attracting the attention of boys all around school - "I must, I must, increase my bust!". You will remember Sally and all her crazy soap opera-esque daydreamings. And the cryptic signature she used that didn't make sense at the time - "Love and other indoor sports" (I used to get this image of people playing tennis inside, popping balls over coffee tables with cartoon hearts dancing above their heads. Now the phrase makes much more sense). And on and on and on.

Judy Blume explored very real problems that very real children dealt with, in simultaneously heartbreaking yet funny ways. Adolescence, puberty, sibling rivalry, divorce, being bullied, friendships, just plain growing up... Everything under the moon. And as a kid, I identified with all of these characters (I saw in Fudge the devil of my own little brother), appreciated that someone understood how I felt. Judy knew how much it sucked to have a little brother that seemed angelic. Judy understood how hard it was to be growing up an underdeveloped girl (although I didn't understand the eagerness for the defining monthly friend... as far as I was concerned, it could never happen for all I cared. I still stand by that opinion). Judy got it, and so did her characters. They were like me. When I was younger, I didn't go to ym or Seventeen for advice - I went to Judy. I cracked opened her books and looked for understanding, empathy, and a way to carry myself. Maybe not consciously, but I know for sure it made an impact on me.

Even her "more mature" book (and so controversial, as I understand it), Forever, had an impact on me, as I broke up with my first serious boyfriend out of high school. This quote in particular just sounded so on the mark at the time, like she just really got what it was like to be in a relationship at a young age. She never simplified it or wrote condescendingly about it. She wrote it like how it really was, like she got how important and yet difficult relationships were when nothing was permanent and you were young and you were still trying to understand yourself, and yet you felt like you had all your heart to give.

I wanted to tell him that I will never be sorry for loving him. That in a way I still do- that maybe I always will. I'll never regret one single thing we did together because what we had was so very special. Maybe if we were 10 years older it would have worked out differently. Maybe, I think, its just that I'm not ready for forever, and neither is he.
- [Forever, Judy Blume]

So there's a new book out edited by Jennifer O'Connell called Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume. It's a bunch of essays on how Judy Blume's works have also impacted other women, writers themselves now, throughout their lives.

Very cool is that BN has an online book forum to discuss the book, and Judy herself has signed on. If you go to Pub Rants, Kristin has written a great post on how Judy herself showed up to Jennifer O'Connell's event.

And just in case you aren't Blume'd out yet, Paper Cuts did a q&a with her today.

1 drops:

moonrat said...

Judy is awesome. My mom's friend bought me a box set when I was REALLY young and I just read them and reread them for about 10 years.

I remember seeing this book in the BNN in Greenwhich Village and reading the opening essay. I didn't buy it because I'm morally opposed to Barnes & Noble but... Now I want it again.

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