On the eve of her new book, author Judy Blume has opened up about a story that didn’t make it in to the final manuscript.
Judy Blume is tomorrow releasing her first adult novel in 16 years. It will be her 29th book.
Blume, one of the most adored authors of all time, is known for her works of fiction including Forever, Blubber and Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret, aimed at young adults.
Many of us will have learned more about boys, periods and sex from a Judy Blume book, than from any sex education class, so we are thrilled.
However, this weekend at a New York-based book event, Blume revealed that there was a story she found too difficult to include in the book.
Speaking at the event, Blume revealed how, at school, she was a member of an ‘advanced’ glee club, which she discovered had been excluding black members. She recalls how she saw a black letter ‘C’ written next to the name of the African-American applicants, but never commented on it. The novelist said: ‘I felt so terribly guilty. Why didn’t anyone say something?’ Blume said she finally apologised to classmates at her school’s 40th reunion.
The author said she had written about the incident in her new book, but removed the passage, as it didn’t work within the overall narrative.
In the Unlikely Event is set in 1952 in Blume’s hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and is inspired by three plane crashes that took place within two months of one another when Blume was 14. The author recalls being terrified by the crashes, saying: ‘It was a crazy time. We were witnessing things that were incomprehensible to us as teenagers. Was it sabotage? An alien invasion? No one knew, and people were understandably terrified.
‘It finally felt right to touch upon these true events from my past,’ said Blume. The book took five years to write, and the novelist struggled with certain parts saying: ‘I hated a lot of it but now it’s finished I love it.’
The story follows the lives of three generations of families who were affected by the plane crashes. The publisher, Alfred A Knopf told The Guardian how the book sees the characters ‘coping not only with grief but with first love, estranged parents, difficult friendships, familial obligations, divorce, career ambitions, a grandparent’s love, a widower’s hope, and everything in between.’
Although the book is not autobiographical, one of the central characters is based upon Blume’s own father, a dentist who has to identify crash victims using dental records.
Alongside the tragedies, the book looks at how life goes on amidst such events: ‘you go to school, you meet a boy, you fall in love, all the time that this is happening,’ said Blume.
The book also addresses the fear of pregnancy during the 1950s; how without abortion as an option, young women’s lives were often dramatically altered after sex.
Knopf have sold over 85 million copies of Blume’s books in 32 languages. We expect this one will do just as well.