Yesterday, London's Daily Telegraph printed an interview with Judy Blume, author of teen-fiction bibles Deenie, Tiger Eyes, Blubber, Forever and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Ms. Blume, who turns 70 years old next week (!!!), has sold 75 million copies of her novels worldwide, and taught girls — and boys — everywhere about periods, masturbation, sex and the roller coaster ride that is puberty. And though she has meant so much to millions of readers; she continues to be "one of the most banned writers in America", particularly because of the sexually-titillating and heart-meltingly sweet coming-of-age novel Forever. "Everybody has a Forever story," Ms. Blume says. "Everybody."
Ms. Blume explains that she wrote Forever for her teenage daughter: "She asked me for a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die."
Her daughter wanted something more, Blume explains:
She had read several novels about teenagers in love. If they had sex, the girl was always punished — an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty trip to a relative in another state, a grisly abortion, sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual.
The appeal of Blume's books lies in her forthright, unapologetic storytelling and her ability pinpoint complex emotions. As a reader, there was definitely a recognition and realization (I'm not alone!) in the gut-wrenching emotional turmoil present in books like Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret, Blubber and even Fudge — but also, Blume was the one adult who seemed to understand. (The punched-in-the-stomach feeling Margaret has when she gets a postcard that reads, "I. Got. It!" is something I'll never forget.) Puberty, budding sexuality and the obstacle course of grade (and high) school is a notoriously difficult time. It's possible to feel surrounded and yet completely alone, to feel like you have no one to talk to. Friends change, parents are embarrassing, siblings don't get it. And although Judy Blume was definitely a shelter in the howling storm for millions of school-age kids but she has no plans to write for adolescents again, explaining, "I don't have anything new to say about teenagers." Too bad, because we'd love to hear what she has to say about an era that has produced the sad stories of Megan Meier and Jamie Lynn Spears.
Judy Blume's Lessons In Love [Telegraph]
Related: Judy Blume's Blog [JudyBlume.com]
Earlier: Then Again, Maybe I Won't: Close Your Eyes, And Think Of Jersey City
Were You a Judy Blume Enthusiast or a Babysitters Club Nerd?