Having amassed a devoted fanbase in the 1970s and 80s with her frank, warm and uncondescending depictions of teen life, Judy Blume now offers her first adult novel in 17 years, and the first to draw on the extraordinary events of her own childhood.
A teenager herself during the winter of 1951-1952, Blume lived through the three freak plane crashes in the New Jersey city of Elizabeth which form the backbone of her novel; with each new disaster, the frayed nerves of the city are raised to a new pitch, but rather than being sensationalised, the crashes become a way to delve deeper into the emotional lives and relationships of Elizabeth’s inhabitants.
Blume is not a stylist but her writing has both satisfying solidity and old-fashioned charm, capturing the minutiae of the lives she describes in an absorbing portrait of a community coming to terms with tragedy. At the centre of the novel is Miri Ammerman, a ninth-grader at Battin high school. She lives in the suburbs with her glamorous single mother, Rusty, hotshot reporter Uncle Henry, and grandmother Irene. Nearby are the wealthy Osners, whose daughter Natalie is Miri’s best friend. Each delicately sketched supporting character comes with a story to tell – among the most successfully rendered is Daisy Dupree, Dr Osner’s longstanding assistant, whose beautiful, accomplished exterior conceals a heartbreaking secret. Read more at The Guardian.