Monday, April 3, 2017

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Judy Blume is still writing books! I had no idea until this was announced as my book club selection for March/April. She is now 79 years old and seemingly still going strong. This book is geared to adults, unlike the titles we all read as kids (Superfudge, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and so on). I really had no idea what to expect of a Judy Blume book geared to adults, so I was eager to give it a try.

This is the story of the people living in Elizabeth, New Jersey (Blume's hometown) in the winter of 1951-1952. Based on real events, it tells the story of how the town reacted when three planes crashed in their small town over the course of 58 days. Between the questions of why this kept happening, the loss of friends and family, and the fear of when it was going to happen again, the people of the town didn't know how to respond to these tragedies.

While all this is going on Miri Ammerman, Natalie Osner, Mason McKittrick and their friends are just trying to be teenagers living their lives. They fall in and out of love, struggle with eating disorders, and struggle with their parents. Rumours abound, no answers are coming and the residents of Elizabeth struggle to find their normal routines amid the heartbreak and fear surrounding them.

It seems impossible that three planes would crash in the same area in such a short time span, but it did happen. All three crashes were near schools, which made school children at the time question whether there was some sort of conspiracy at work. However, it just seems like three horrible separate tragedies that happened in a short time frame.

The story is told in alternating voices, lots of them, which can make it hard to follow. In the print copy (I read it digitally) there is a list of characters at the beginning which could really help to keep the numerous characters straight. The characters, for the most part, are quite likeable and you can easily identify with them. They face difficult situations and see how that can draw people together, or pull them apart.

It's probably a book I wouldn't have read if it hadn't been chosen by my book club, but I'm glad I read it. Several members of our group couldn't get into it and didn't finish it, so I'd like to know if anyone else read it too and how you felt about it.

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