When I learned that Judy Blume – my absolute favorite during my late childhood/ teen years – had released another novel, I tried not to get too excited. While I adore her young adult fiction – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tiger Eyes, and Just as Long as We’re Together just to name a few – I hadn’t quite taken to her adult fiction. With its multiple viewpoints and by centering the story on Miri and her friends and family, In the Unlikely Event as it turns out reads much like the young adult works I loved so much while tackling adult themes.
Initially, I was turned off by the ever-increasing number of characters. It was difficult to keep track of all of the names and storylines. The wide range of viewpoints, however, demonstrates the far-reaching effects of tragedy. Everyone – old and young – were deeply changed by the three real-life plane disasters around which Blume’s story is centered whether anyone they knew and loved was onboard or affected by the crashes. The novel also shows that life does indeed go on. Big changes come to the lives of the characters that may be caused indirectly by the accidents or have nothing to do with them at all but how the characters react to these changes is greatly affected by this horrific experience.
Along with having written another extraordinary novel full of truths about human nature and how people, especially young people, react to tragedy, the great Judy Blume has also written a wonderful historical novel. Though she did experience the plane crashes herself as a young teen, it must have required plenty of research and the effort shows in the delightful details. For that reason, I recommend the book to anyone who grew up in the 1950s. I’m sure it will have a nostalgiac effect on them.
If you enjoy Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event, I recommend Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane for its exploration of the evolution of friendship that the relationship between Miri and Natalie reminded me of. Or, if it is Blume’s unique look at history you like, I would recommend Starring Sally J. Freeman As Herself about the effects of World War II on a young girl living in America.