As a child and young teen, Judy Blume’s books were some of my favorites. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret totally defined my childhood. I read and re-read it until it literally fell apart. Her other books – the Fudge series, Freckle Juice, Blubber, and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, to name just a few – sat on my grandma’s bookshelf waiting for me whenever I visited. So when I saw that she’d written a new book (finally! after all these years!) and it was available for request on Goodreads, I jumped at the chance. Imagine my excitement when I actually won! I ran through the halls of my office telling everyone I’d just won a free advance copy of Judy Blume’s new book. (Nobody knew who she was, but that’s a sad story for another day.)
I have to admit, it took me awhile to get into in this one. There are an awful lot of characters, and there’s an awful lot going on. We start with a plane crash in Elizabeth, NJ. A horrible event, but not one that’s likely repeated, right? Wrong – it happens twice more in the same town over the next few months. Three plane crashes, all changing the characters in different ways.
In the midst of it all, we have Miri’s coming of age story. This is where the book shines, as expected, since this is what Judy Blume is known for. Out of all the characters, Miri stands out as the best developed, the most interesting, and the most relatable. Even while dealing with the aftermath of three local plane crashes, Miri also has to navigate her first love, her best friend’s mental health issues, and her single mother jumping back into the dating pool.
Although it takes awhile to gain momentum, it’s worth it to slog through the first few chapters for another glimpse into Judy Blume’s mind. After all, the book is based on true events from her childhood. Knowing that there’s probably a lot of Judy Blume’s own experiences in Miri makes the book that much more touching.
I’d highly recommend In the Unlikely Event, because even after all these years, Judy Blume’s still got it.
Final rating: ★★★★☆
For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #19: a book based on a true story.