Monday, July 05, 2010

SMART WOMEN (1983), SUMMER SISTERS (1998) and FOREVER (1975) by Judy Blume

I haven't picked up a Judy Blume title since the summer of 1976 when I read DEENIE, because I was terrified that like the title character in that tween novel I might end up wearing a back brace for scoliosis. Luckily, I grew almost 6 inches that summer and pretty much straightened myself out. Up until then I'd read her age-appropriate books including OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SHEILA THE GREAT, STARRING SALLY J. FREEMAN AS HERSELF, TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING, ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT'S ME MARGARET and BLUBBER. I loved the humour and the real way those kids spoke and behaved and I wanted to live in NYC near Central Park like they did. In addition to Beverly Cleary's books about Beezus, Ramona and Henry, I credit Judy Blume with really turning me on to reading for the complete delight it offers when you disappear into that time and space.

When I started following @judyblume on Twitter recently, I decided I would pick up where I left off 35 years ago. So, I finally read FOREVER and now understand why I simply couldn't get a copy as a gift when I was 12, and chuckle now at Blume's homage to LADY CHATTERLY'S LOVER--a reference that would have certainly been lost on me then. But, Ralph? I ask you is there a penis name any more ridiculous than that?

SMART WOMEN and SUMMER SISTERS are written for adult readers and both address love lost and found in young adulthood and middle-age. Though the stories are entirely predictable, the characters are genuine and demonstrate real problems great and small that we all experience. If you're feeling nostalgic for cognac, hot-tubs, rides in pick-up trucks, or Martha's Vineyard, reach for one of these breezy summer reads to toss in your beach bag.

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