MAZAL TOV, JUDY BLUME
In what may be a shock to you readers who think I'm only about the TV/cinema aspects of pop culture, I present you with this glimpse of my book-laden past.
Iconic young adults' author Judy Blume, author of such seminal works as Deenie (about the girl with the back brace), Blubber (the girl who was fat), Are You There God? It's Me Margaret (about the girl who gets her period), and Forever (the girl who loses her virginity within the context of a loving, committed relationship), is getting the National Book Award at the 55th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City on Wednesday, November 17. According to the press release, she is the first author of young-adult literature and only the fifth woman to receive the Medal in the sixteen-year history of the award.
I read them all, voraciously. Most of them, I read in the open, tearing through them at home, on the school bus, at school, etc. And then, there was Forever. You thirtysomething gals know what I mean. Forever was the book we snuck into sleepover parties and read barely aloud, in whispers and giggles so that our parents didn't hear us (for this writer, this was as recently as August, when the well-worn volume made its appearance at a bachelorette party I attended--no fear of parents, though). It was the first book most of us had read that contained graphic sex. Especially in yeshiva, we had never read copy like that before. We were used to a much more Puritanical environment; moving on from the literature where the first kiss was magical and faded into a "The End," we found ourselves squealing as we read about the narrator's first sexperience in detail. It wasn't idealized at all--some of the descriptions were downright unromantic, as awkward as first fumblings themselves can be.
That book specifically, and the whole of Judy Blume's oeuvre, is the fulcrum for an entire generation of women. Perhaps, because of her writing, some of us will mature into future winners of the National Book Award. But even if none of us achieve the literary fame we may quest for, even though we're grown and accomplished in our professional endeavors, we still remember the times when we felt fat, or crooked, or underdeveloped, or out of place, where we were just like the awkward teen and pre-teen girls in the books, living in Judy Blume's world.