In her highly anticipated new novel, Judy Blume, the New York Times # 1 best-selling author of Summer Sisters and of young adult classics such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, creates a richly textured and moving story of three generations of families, friends and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by unexpected events.
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, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.
Early reviewers have already weighed in: “Like many family stories, this one is not without its life-changing secrets and surprises. There is no surprise that the book is smoothly written, and its story compelling. The setting—the early 1950s—is especially well realized through period references and incidents.” —Booklist (starred review) and “In Blume’s latest adult novel . . . young and old alike must learn to come to terms with technological disaster and social change. Her novel is characteristically accessible, frequently charming and always deeply human.” —Publishers Weekly
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 mesmerized 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
I don't buy it
This is a nice story but I can't get over the blasé hookup of Rusty and Dr. O. Selfish behaviour that breaks up families. So disappointed that this is treated as a happy ending. Also the characters of Rusty and Irene are written such that they'd never tolerate this type of dishonesty and betrayal. How are they so quick to overlook the major contradiction?
Not my cup of tea
This is my first Judy Blume book and I can't say I liked it much. The dialogue struck me as geared to young readers though the few sexual scenarios were not. Also, too long, and it could have been a tighter story. Liked the interweaving of the crashes, however, and wished there had been more about the people on the planes.
This is a book with many characters. Each one of them was interesting, but it was at times difficult to keep track of each one of them. Somehow, the author manages to make all these characters to be somehow connected into an interesting life story.