Sunday, August 9, 2015

Book Review: "In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume

"In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume
First published in 2015
397 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads


*The plotline of three planes crashing in the same New Jersey town in the early 1950s is not as crazy as it sounds. Judy Blume actually grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, site of three plane crashes in 8 weeks the year she was 15.

*I loved the 1951-52 small-town New Jersey setting. It's fun to be transported back to a time when girls wore skirts and dresses every day, soda fountains were a thing, and everyone got their news from an actual newspaper. The historical fiction aspect of the book was great.

*Speaking of newspapers,  I really enjoyed the newspaper "clippings" at the beginning of every chapter. The colorful and rather biased reporting was apparently true to form, as Blume says in the acknowledgments section that she used some wording from actual newspaper stories covering the plane crashes. It added another level of interest to the story.

*This is marketed as an adult book, but I thought it was more of a a teen coming-of-age story that, oh, just so happens to have a handful of horrific plane crashes thrown in. Judy Blume is famous for her kids' and young adult books, and I felt like this was really just a YA book with a few adult characters stuck in as an afterthought.

*Continuing that thought, the plane crashes -- the focus of the first half of the book -- really don't have anything to do with the underlying storyline, which takes the lead in the second part of the book. I expected the crashes to have more of an impact overall. Otherwise, what was the point of making them the star of the novel?

*There were way too many points-of-view. Perspectives changed multiple times in every chapter, and some of the characters were totally unnecessary to the story. It was a bit hard to keep the minor characters straight and I wish Blume had cut them out and let us hear more from some of the people we actually cared about (like the compelling Rusty, our main character's single mother, who got pregnant at 18 out of wedlock at a time when that was a cardinal sin -- and still managed to eke out a pretty good life for her small family).

*The main narrator, Miri, is only 15. I'm sure I was naive about plenty of things at that age, but Miri is painfully and irritatingly so. Sometimes I yearned to give her a good, hard shake on the shoulders. In fact I felt all the young women in the book were completely in the dark about so many things -- especially sex. No, you cannot get pregnant just from being touched down there, ya dummy! (Thank god we live in the 21st century where I'm pretty sure no high school seniors could possibly think that. Blume put quite a bit of teen sex talk in the book [my this-is-a-YA-book-in-adult-clothing warning bells are going off here!] and I was pretty disgusted by the misogynistic and sexually repressive culture of the '50s -- really not all that long ago.)

This book wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it could've been better. If it had been more adult-oriented I probably would've given it 4 stars. Still, I was really intrigued by the based-in-fact plane crash plot... it's nuts to think our author lived through that terrifying time herself!


  1. This sounds pretty similar to some of her other adult novels (coming of age, multiple perspectives, etc.). I'm sorry to hear it just didn't work!

    1. Oh, does it? I actually haven't read a Judy Blume book since I was a kid, but for some reason I felt like I had to hop on the bandwagon with this one.

  2. I've never read any of Blume's adult novels, but somehow I feel ok leaving her books as a good childhood memory. I'm sorry this wasn't a great read for you!


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