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.
In 1952, the New Jersey town of Elizabeth is traumatized by three separate plane crashes in the span of one year. Blume's novel explores the events of that tumultuous period through the eyes of 15-year-old Miri, her family, other residents of the town, and relatives of the victims. Narrator McInerney expertly voices the myriad of characters, ranging from small children to teenagers to the elderly, giving each a distinct voice and portraying the conflicting emotions and events, both large and small. In addition to the trauma of the plane crashes, Miri and her friends are going through adolescence, high school, first loves, and plans for college or jobs. Through her narration, McInerney is able to convey all the characters' horror and reaction to the tragedies. She also captures their coming-of-age story, the little joys and sorrows and insecurities of growing up, the sense of small-town life in the 1950s and the mature perspective of Miri as she returns to her hometown 35 years later for a memorial. This is a thoughtful, insightful tale, well told and well narrated. A Knopf hardcover.
In an unlikely event
This book is not your typical Judy Blume. At first with all the different characters it was difficult to follow and I assumed she was losing it in her old age. Actually it turned out to be a brilliant puzzle to which each character was intertwined. A beautiful story of uncertainty at any age in life from youth, middle age & even senior citizen. LOVED IT
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.