In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.
Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen and in love for the first time, three planes fell from the sky within three months, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume weaves a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are for ever changed in the aftermath.
The plane crashes bring some people closer together and tear others apart; they create myths and unlock secrets. As Miri experiences the ordinary joys and pains of growing up in extraordinary circumstances, a young journalist makes his name reporting tragedy. And through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
Beautiful, gripping and deeply moving, In the Unlikely Event is an unforgettable novel from Judy Blume, one of America's most beloved authors.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We grew up under Judy Blume's spell so it's no surprise we adored In the Unlikely Event, her first book for adults in more than 15 years. The novel follows a sprawling cast of characters in and around the suburban town of Elizabeth, New Jersey, before and after a series of plane crashes at nearby Newark Airport. Set in the ‘50s, the story grew out of real-life events that loom large in Blume’s early memories. We were mesmerised by the glittering details of a bygone era—a Mad Men-esque treat—and profoundly moved by the emotional journeys of 15-year-old Miri Ammerman, her single mother, Rusty and all of Blume’s wonderful characters.
The three fatal plane crashes that hit Elizabeth, N.J., during the winter of 1951 52 are the inspiration for Elizabeth-native Blume's latest adult novel (the first since 1998's Summer Sisters), in which young and old alike must learn to come to terms with technological disaster and social change. The novel opens in 1987, when Miri Ammerman's return to Elizabeth for a commemorative ceremony brings back memories of the year she turned 15. In flashback, readers are brought back to the 1950s Kate Smith, Lilly Dache, J.D. Salinger, Korea from a variety of perspectives: Miri; her single mom; her supportive uncle; her wise grandmother; Miri's best friend, Natalie, daughter of a workaholic dentist and his shopaholic wife; Christina, a Greek girl secretly dating an Irish boy; passengers on the ill-fated planes. Miri's uncle earns recognition for reporting on the crashes in the local newspaper, but when Miri writes about the reactions at school she lands in the principal's office. Disaster produces other unexpected developments: Miri's boyfriend saves lives, while Natalie hears dead people. Maintaining her knack for personal detail, Blume mixes Miri's familiar coming-of-age melodrama with an exploration of how disasters test character, alter relationships, and reveal undercurrents of a seemingly simple world. She evokes '50s music, ethnic neighborhoods, and Las Vegas in the early days, while posing the question, how do individuals, families, and communities, deal with disaster? Her answer may not be entirely new, but her novel is characteristically accessible, frequently charming, and always deeply human. 350,000-copy first printing.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Judy Blume, you have never disappointed me. From adolescence to adulthood, your stories captivate and fascinate me. What an incredible taller to be able to speak across so many generations.
I absolutely loved 'In The Unlikely Event' and had trouble putting it down. I had no trouble visualising the many important characters and felt transported back in time.