Seeing Judy Blume’s name at the top of a new novel is more than just exciting; it’s reminiscent of the days I’d sit in middle school reading her widely beloved stories about young girls grappling with friends, family, and themselves. Her books always had a way of grabbing me and reminding me that I wasn’t alone. After 46 years of being a best selling author, Blume is inching towards retirement. But not before she tells us a story from her own childhood.

A departure from her typical readership; In the Unlikely Event is geared toward a more adult audience. Even so, Blume hasn’t lost her ability to capture the intense and momentous moments from the viewpoint of a young person. This young person being Miri Ammerman. When we meet Miri she is boarding a plane, full of anxiety, back to her hometown for a memorial of some sort. As soon as we meet adult Miri we are suddenly whisked away to meet 15-year-old Miri. We are introduced to her friends, her family, her friend’s family and eventually to the people living in her town who all “become a part of a club they didn’t join.”

In the Unlikely Event takes place in Blume’s own hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1952, when a string of plane crashes in Elizabeth caused distress, terror, and panic amongst its residents. While the characters and their stories are fictional, the events are real, as told by Blume in wonderfully constructed sentences with some unlikely, but welcomed devices.

Blume uses alliteration often and it reminds me why her writing speaks so much to young girls. There is certainly poetry to her writing without being too magisterial or pretentious. Her writing is continuously authentic and has the ability to deal with death, change and fear in a way that is easily understood. Miri could infact be Blume 63 years ago if we didn’t already know Miri’s story is fictional.

Blume took six years to complete her final novel and it shows. Despite the sullen plot, In the Unlikely Event is well worth the read.

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