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I Just Watched ‘Judy Blume Forever’ & My 11-Year-Old Self Can't Stop Crying

Are you there, reader? It’s me. A Judy Blume fan whose life was changed after reading a host of her trailblazing books.

I picked up my first Judy Blume book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, when I was 11 years old. And I can still recall how bizarre it felt to read about a character to whom I related so deeply. But it was so refreshing. Talking about boys? And bras? And periods? With Margaret, I felt for the first time that maybe I wasn't the only one awkwardly fumbling through my adolescent years. But when I read this book, I started to feel like I wasn't the only one awkwardly fumbling through my adolescent years. It is an understatement to say that Blume made generations of tweens feel seen for the first times in their lives.

Now, the beloved writer is getting her well-deserved flowers in Prime Video's upcoming documentary, Judy Blume Forever, which tells the writer's full story while reflecting on her legacy and battle with censorship. The 98-minute film also includes eye-opening interviews with celebrities and fellow authors who went through the familiar rite of passage by reading her books, including Lena Dunham, Molly Ringwald and Mary H.K. Choi and Jacqueline Woodson. But the most meaningful moments by far involve the adult fans who corresponded with Blume when they were children.

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Prime Video

Throughout the film, Blume pulls out letters from a big box of saved fan mail—hundreds of which are kept in the Yale University Archives—and as she reads them, it's clear that her fans found comfort in opening up to her about their biggest challenges. One can't help but feel an even deeper level of appreciation for the author, who not only wrote powerful books, but also took the time to correspond with young readers who needed guidance.

I could immediately see parts of myself in Blume's longtime fan, Lorrie Kim, who wrote to Judy about how much she identified with Margaret in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. In the film, she reads, "I found that Margaret's problems were very like my own, for my mother is Buddhist and my father Christian. Also, I am not yet growing and several of my classmates wear bras. I did not even know what menstruation was until I read your books."

Like Kim, I often felt like I was behind the curve when it came to puberty. I struggled with fitting in and I questioned whether God cared about my flat chest or the fact that I was a chubby outsider who wasn't quite sure of her identity or where she belonged. So, when I finally picked up Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, it seemed like Blume knew exactly what I was going through.

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Prime Video

From Margaret's genuine curiosity about her faith to her complicated relationship with her friends, Blume captured the anxieties of growing up in the most realistic and endearing way. And while I didn't have my own little club of girlfriends to open up to, I lived vicariously through Margaret. I found comfort in the fact that I wasn't the only one who thought about these things.

In the documentary, author Jacqueline Woodson shared what I and countless other girls felt while reading this book. She said, “I felt like Margaret was someone I knew. Here I was, this flat-chested girl from Brooklyn who always felt a little bit outside of things."

"It's that period where you are too old to be a child and too young to be a teenager, and yet, you're existing in both of those worlds at the same time and not having a sense of where you belong... The bittersweetness of that and belonging is so a part of becoming an adolescent and becoming an adult.”

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Prime Video

As you could imagine, after reading Margaret, I devoured as many Judy Blume books as I could get my hands on, from Blubber and Deenie to Just As Long As We're Together. With every single one of these books, there was at least one character that really resonated with me, from Deenie and her struggle with people-pleasing to Linda's cringe-worthy experience with bullying. But more importantly, these stories were honest and thought-provoking. They explored taboo topics that I was way too embarrassed to ask about (like sex and masturbation), and they challenged me to reconsider how I interact with my peers.

The biggest example? Blume's Blubber, which follows a young girl who gets mercilessly bullied at school. While reflecting on her first time reading the book, author Tayari Jones said, "It made me want not to be horrible. It made me understand that just being a bystander to cruel behavior made you cruel." TBH, same.

The documentary also gives fans a closer look at her personal life and how they influenced her stories, from her previous marriages to her experiences as a mother. The author even gets candid about how she handled multiple rejections before publishing her first book: "I cried a little, but then he got me fired up. I said, 'I will show that guy. I will show him that I can [write], I do have something."

Well, dozens of published books, a star-studded Margaret film adaptation and a stunning documentary later, Blume has definitely kept her word.

Judy Blume Forever hits Prime Video on April 21.