When I found out that Judy Blume had a new book being published at the beginning of June, it felt like a small gift. A new book from one of my favorite writers, just in time for summer reading? How perfect.
After 397 pages, I’m happy to report that I’m still feeling just as happy about this book. I (rather unexpectedly) sped through this book in just a few days, a fact that speaks for the joy of reading it. After my cat woke me up extra early this morning, I read the final chapter as rain fell against my window. A happy start to the morning, I’d say.
Stylistically, In the Unlikely Event follows popular trends in lots of contemporary literature (I’m thinking Stephen King’s works and J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy) of painting a portrait of a large ensemble of characters, switching focus among them many times per chapter. Once I got used to the characters, though, this wasn’t much to be concerned with.
In a “big picture” sense, this book centers around characters living in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1951-1952, when three airplanes crash over the course of 58 days (though the characters are imagined, the plane crashes really happened as described, while Blume lived in the area).
At age fifteen, Miri Ammerman is the center of this story. Miri faces the same struggles of Blume’s best heroines: young love, friendship woes, and parents who sometimes don’t understand.
Though I obviously wasn’t a teen in the 1950s, there’s a sense of familiarity and comfort in reading this book. Blume has always written timeless tales of youth, and I’m so glad this story took her back to these roots.