I was a huge Judy Blume fan growing up. Whenever I saw one of her books at the school library, it was a given that it would end up in my final stack.
When I read that her newest book was released recently, I turned into a 12 year old girl again! But this time there was no library (and no wait!). I went on my Kindle and bought a copy of In the Unlikely Event, and within days, I was engrossed!.
The story is based on actual events from Blume’s childhood. When she was in the eighth grade, the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey was hit with three tragic plane crashes. She used those events and everything that happened before and after as the foundation of In the Unlikely Event.
The book itself follows the point of view of multiple characters as they deal with the aftermath of these crashes. Miri, the main protagonist, is connected to all the other characters in one way or another. Miri’s teenage character is beautifully developed, and as you read the story from her perspective, you see Blume’s talent shine through.
Blume also does an amazing job of describing life in the early 50’s – from the way people talked and behaved, to the clothing, to the stress of living in the shadow of a war. As a reader, you get a real sense of what the characters experienced in a time that is so different from our own.
As my friend Ankita said, the book does a good job of making you realize that everyone has a story to tell and that life is really precious.
While I enjoyed the book overall, there were a two aspects that didn’t jive with me. One, there were too many characters and POVs. I see how she used that technique to give readers a holistic perspective, but with all the back and forth, it didn’t leave much room for meaningful character development. And two, I didn’t like the ending at all. I must have said “WTF” 15 times while reading the last third of the book. While you do get closure with all of the characters, I felt like the ending was rushed and off balance.
My expectations for this book were sky high, and while I’m glad I read it, it was an average/very slightly above average read in my opinion.
Are you a Judy Blume fan?
What are you currently reading? I finally started The Poisonwood Bible!