Thank you, Judy Blume

Thank You, Judy Blume | Houston Moms Blog

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Dear Judy, 

This week, you celebrated your 80th birthday. How can this be? Your books and stories have been a part of the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember, and I never once imagined you as more than four decades older than me. Some of my clearest and most treasured childhood memories consist of being curled up under a blanket devouring one of your novels {usually for the 4th or 5th time}. Your characters were and are as real to me as my actual childhood friends.

And isn’t that what great writing does? It binds readers to stories and characters so that the line between fiction and reality blurs over time. 

In elementary school, I laughed and cheered for the antics of Peter and Fudge Hatcher, and Sheila Tubman. I always thought Fudge was the craziest little kid, but now that I have my own preschoolers, I realize that Mr. Farley Drexel Hatcher was actually fairly normal {although if my 2 year old ever swallows a turtle, I. Will. Die}. I cried with righteous anger for Linda, nicknamed Blubber, as she was mercilessly bullied by her classmates. I was enamored with Sally J. Freedman and her “Latin Lover” Peter Hornstein. And of course, I met probably your most iconic character, Margaret Simon. Margaret taught me that wrestling with faith, fearing the changes of puberty, and social awkwardness are all normal parts of growing up. My tattered copy of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret has been read countless times and always made me feel less alone. 

In junior high, you introduced me to Deenie, who struggled with wearing a back brace for scoliosis. I still think about her and how difficult fitting in was, as it was for all of us at that awkward age. I must have read Tiger Eyes at least ten times, and am forever connected with the pain and grief of Davey Wexler. Thanks to Tony Miglione, I learned about the umm, male aspects of puberty that were just too embarrassing to ask my mom about. 

I don’t think I read Forever until I was in high school, and of course I felt so scandalous as I devoured page after page of your most controversial novel. Sexuality, especially in the teenage years, is so complicated and confusing. I love that you weren’t afraid to tell Katherine’s story, regardless of how many times it was banned from libraries and read by teenagers hiding it under their mattresses so their parents wouldn’t know. 

As I transitioned to adulthood and motherhood, you were there. Summer Sisters is my faithful summertime companion, and I re-read it nearly every year. And every time, I get lost in the drama, fierce love, and ultimate tragedy of the friendship between Caitlin and Vix. Just this winter, I read your most recent novel, In the Unlikely Event, and once again, got to know a whole new crop of interesting, dynamic Judy Blume characters. 

Judy, I want to thank you. Your books instilled in me a love of reading, which later led to a love of writing as well. Every plot you wrote, and every character you masterfully created, has touched countless children and teenagers for decades. What a legacy

In a few years, I’ll bring out my well read and well loved copies of your novels, sit with my daughter, and introduce her to some new friends. I hope that Peter, Fudge, and Sheila, and later Margaret, Davey, and Deenie will capture her heart and imagination just as they did mine. 

Happy Birthday Judy, and well done. 

 

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