In The Unlikely Event – Judy Blume /// Adult – Contemporary
Let me start by saying I love Judy Blume – I will never not love her. She is my queen. This book was classic Judy Blume, just not my favorite Judy Blume.
The story is centered on a small community where over the course of the winter months, three planes crash. These events are based on Blume’s own childhood and I went into full on sleuth mode to research everything I could find about the accidents. The great thing about this book is while the story is fiction the details Blume gives about the planes crashing are all true, which I think adds positively to the book as we don’t have to suspend disbelief as it would take away from the character conflicts. We can just accept the bizarre accidents as true and concentrate on the other issues within the story.
While the story follows the lives of over half the town (eh), the protagonist is Miri Ammerman. As a 15 year old girl, she deals with all things teenage girls deal with, in typical Judy Blume fashion. She is trying to grow up while keeping everything around her the same in very realistic fashion. In these months Miri has her first real boyfriend (and love), navigates the dynamic of changing friendships, and deals with her mom navigating the world of adult romance more openly in front of her.
I loved this story and the majority of the characters. Even when I was annoyed and hated them I loved them. Except for Miri’s “lifelong” friend Natalie, who annoyed me throughout the entire story for reasons I don’t even understand, it was just something about her. I think because she was just such a little snot in my head and she turned me into my grandma being all disapproving of the youths. Everyone in Miri’s life had their flaws but they weren’t inherently bad, they were just real and this is what I love most about Judy Blume. She has a way of showing us that people will make mistakes and have their moments, but they can still be good in a non-cheesy / non-preachy way. Every character was just doing what they thought was best whether they just came up short or not.
As I talk about all the ways I loved the characters that was also what bothered me the most. There were so many of them. Every chapter was in a different Point of View and it was confusing in its spots. Also a new character would be introduced in one chapter then at the end of their chapter they would get on a plane and that would be it. In my opinion it was a way for us to feel more connected to the crash but the entire time I just kept thinking I want more Miri! I think the different POVs were incredibly disorienting as all of the “background” characters had the same voice so I gave up even trying to keep them separated. In my head they are now just Townsfolk.
“But you don’t want your fears to limit your possibilities.”
“Life is a series of unlikely events, isn’t it? Hers certainly is. One unlikely event after another, adding up to a rich, complicated whole. And who knows what’s still to come?”
Will I reread: Eh – probably not. However, I will own it because Judy Blume.
If you love Judy Blume you will like this book, but in the Judy Blume canon it’s a middle of the road book for me. Good but not great. I think this a very clear case of where my expectations were way too high. Had this been any other author I would have loved it more. I think from Judy Blume I just wanted / expected more.