Share your formative Judy Blume experiences!

Sallyjfreedman_lAfter reading this week’s Binge Thinking column — in which EW columnist Diablo Cody reminisces about "generational icon" Judy Blume — we’re recalling all sorts of random life lessons we’ve gleaned from Blume’s extensive canon of popular young-adult novels. Some of mine, particularly from Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, are merely practical. Never walk around in a wet bathing suit. Don’t be racist. The nice old man down the hall who’s always offering you candy probably isn’t Hitler. Still, might be better not to take the candy. (I hated that last one a lot.)

But oddly enough, the Freedman theme that’s stuck with me the most is pop culture-related: Sally idolized competitive swimmer/movie star Esther Williams. Years before I bothered to actually seek out an Esther Williams movie, I’d inexplicably drop the name into conversations with other 11-year-old girls. We’d be in the lake, testing out glamorous mid-swim poses, and I’d be all, "Check it out. Esther Williams." And they’d just stare at me. Why would I do that?! Sigh. Who knows? Just Judy.

Name the random Judy Blume memories that have stuck with you, below!

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  • Chaddogg

    When I was an 8 year old boy, after reading Superfudge, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge-a-Mania, and Freckle Juice, I decided to pick up another Judy Blume book from the library: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
    After reading it, I went to my mom and said: Mom, I don’t get it. Why does this girl have such a problem with punctuation?
    My mom said: What do you mean?
    And I said: She’s always talking about periods.
    (Needless to say, my family still laughs about that story)

  • cw

    Timely. A friend and I were talking yesterday about when to introduce some of the Blume titles to our 3rd and 4th grade girls. I recalled every detail of “Then Again…Maybe I Won’t” — prompting her to decide against introducing it at this time!
    My sister and I read those books so many times, they disintegrated.
    I do recall asking my dad what “going behind the A&P” (Are You There God, I think) meant and being embarrassed that he couldn’t put together a response, such was the extent of his stuttering and stammering.
    As for lessons…Don’t change in front of a curtain-less window (Then Again), don’t go in the closet with a back brace on (Deenie), don’t leave your little brother unattended with a turtle (Fudge), losing a parent is heartbreaking (Tiger Eyes)…
    And let’s not forget the lessons we all learned off the dog-eared copies of Forever that got passed around the bus.

  • Nicole

    I was a devout Blume reader growing up and was thinking of her just last night (Supernatural’s episode was called “Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean”!). “Are You There” will always be my favourite, as I read it at exactly the right age (11) and was at that stage of being so excited to be just a little bit older… Blubber was also so heartfelt, and the Fudge books cracked me up when I was younger.
    I also really loved “Just As Long As We’re Together” which I read in sixth grade. I could go on…Judy had as strong an influence on a generation of girls (and boys) as John Hughes had with his films. She’s an icon, man.

  • Rebekah

    I read the Judy Blume books a million times. I especially loved Superfudge. I still picture Fudge having the choice of eating or wearing his food. Hilarity ensued of course!

  • Snarf

    Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret, (religion and it’s impact on familes)Then Again, Maybe I Wont, (realizing your parents aren’t perfect) Blubber, (judgmental behavior and bullying) It’s Not the End of the World, (divorce) and Forever (first real intimate relationship) were some of my favorite books when I was a kid/tween.

  • hanncoll

    All the girls in my fifth-grade class passed “Forever” around. It was quite educational. *g*

  • msf

    “Are You There…” was absolutely riveting for my friends and me. It was the context for how we talked about periods, bras and all related puberty topics! “Deenie” also had a big impact, between the back brace, kissing, and all those “special” feelings she’d get.

  • Jessie

    Judy Blume was my favourite author when I was a kid. I devoured every book she wrote. One of my favourites is Tiger Eyes. It’s not as well known, but I love it.

  • bootsycolumbia

    For sure, “Are You There, God…” had the most impact on me. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I read it, but Margaret questioning religions was a big eye-opener for a conservative Catholic girl. I’ve never viewed organized religion the same way since. I also loved Tiger Eyes, and Deenie was moving because I knew someone with scoliosis, so that book really helped me understand what she was going through.

  • Anonymous

    A friend of mine was working at a theme park in Orlando, and this guest started talking to her. They got on the subject of books, and the guest mentioned she was an author. Erin asked the guest what books she’d written, so the guest started listing, “Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing,” “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret…” Erin nearly dropped the bowl of lettuce she was holding and went, “Oh my God, you’re Judy Blume.” Judy was “really nice,” and Erin was still walking on air when she met up with us that night.

  • orville

    I was never a Judy Blume fan as a kid. I started reading early, so I somehow skipped over the Blume stage along the way. But my mother absolutely *forbade* me from reading “Forever,” so of course I had to find a way to read it.

  • rochelle thorne

    One cannot overlook the importance of Then Again Maybe I Won’t in the Judy Blume catalog. How else could us girls learn what boys really thought about girls? If Judy wrote it, it had to be true! I think I read that book 20 times or more! Now my 6 year old daughter and I are reading Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great and I am so excited to be sharing these amazing books with her! Hopefully they’ll get her through adolescence (someday in the distant future I hope) in one piece! Thank you Judy Blume, wherever you are!

  • annie

    so many things i learned from judy blume. i read forever way too early but it certainly educated me. as did both are you there god and deenie. blume basically shoved me into adolescence.

  • katie

    One Christmas as a kid, i received a box set of Judy Blume books. Starting with the more tame titles, (the Fudge books), I worked my way through the set and soon found myself spending my allowance on every book I could find, including “Forever” which as a 5th grader, seemed like the wildest thing I could read. Of course, I showed it to everyone I knew. The name “Ralph” will never be the same for me!!

  • Cece

    My first Judy Blume book (and possibly my favorite) is Blubber. There was a period during the summer of ’91 when I would read the book every weekend. EVERY. WEEKEND.
    Of course, I took the lesson that following the crowd can turn you into someone you never wanted to be. But also, everytime I hear “Beautiful Dreamer” (because I hear it so often *smile*), I start thinking “blubbery-blubber.” I truly heart that book.

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