Are you a woman? Were you born between the years of 1955 and, well, now? OK, we’re going to go ahead and assume that Judy Blume was a seminal part of your pre-adolescence and that you have a soft spot for Margaret, Deenie, Blubber (er, Linda) and the like.
Add to that list Miri Ammerman, the teenage star of In the Unlikely Event, Blume’s first adult novel in 12 years.
The bulk of the book is set in New Jersey in 1952. Miri is 15, in love for the first time and going through all the stuff you’d expect of a Blume protagonist (insecurity, burgeoning sexuality, awkward battles with feminine products).
But then things take a dark turn: An airplane, en route to Newark Airport, falls out of the sky, completely devastating her once idyllic town.
Jumping back and forth between Miri’s perspective (sometimes shallow and crass, sometimes fiercely wise) and those of the adults in her life, Blume tells the story of what tragedy can do to a community, while slowly revealing the family secret that has dictated so much of Miri’s life.
Sad and painful, funny and uplifting, this is Judy Blume at her very best.