Like many of my contemporaries, I spent much of my early-teenage years hidden away in my bedroom reading Judy Blume. From Are You There God it’s Me Margaret, to Deenie, to Blubber to Forever and beyond, Blume’s books spoke honestly to her legion of readers about the trials and tribulations of adolescence and no doubt offered both wisdom and reassurance to many uncertain teenagers the world over.
Thus it was with nothing less than utter delight that I discovered that thirteen years after writing her most recent novel for adults, Blume was to publish a new one entitled In The Unlikely Event. Based on a series of plane crashes that happened in Blume’s home town of Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950s, In The Unlikely Event is a fictional account which revolves around the three months during which the three crashes took place. The frequency with which the crashes took place left the small town of Elizabeth shaken and scared; wondering whether it was merely a coincidence, or something more sinister.
Set across two time frames; the 1950s when the crashes took place, and thirty-five years later where central character Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth to attend a commemoration of the crashes, we meet a cast of colourful characters throughout Blume’s perfectly honed narrative, all of whom are both directly and indirectly affected by the tragedies.
A moving and unforgettable novel from one of the world’s best-loved authors, reading In The Unlikely Event has reminded me of Blume’s unrivalled storytelling prowess and made me want to hunker down like an uncertain teenager, re-reading my favourites of Blume from years gone by.