Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Judy Blume is My Hero

The fact is, Judy Blume is the hero of many writers - and for good reason. Her books are sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes adventureous, sometimes modern - but always, always, always honest.

I was first introduced to Judy Blume when I was ten years old. My aunt gave me a copy of ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET. My mother actually read it out loud to me because it had been one of her favorites as a kid, and she wanted me to read it as well. Margaret provided many topics of conversation between my mother and me, and it is still, to this day, one of my all time favorite books. Last year, in my Girlhoods in Literature class, I reread the book, and you know what? It is still relevent.

I read many other Judy Blume books growing up. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING, DEENIE, BLUBBER . . . but there was one book I didn't read. One book that managed to slip past my line of vision. Was it stocked in my school library? I don't remember. But when I heard about it, I knew it was something I wanted to read - but by then, I was 15 in high school, and my reading time just wasn't what it used to be. So I never had the chance to read FOREVER . . .

Until today.

Yes, today. I started FOREVER . . . this afternoon and finished it about an hour ago. I feel a little ashamed for admitting that I'm only just now reading it - for many reasons, but one being that my amazing friend Daisy Whitney (author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS, out in November) has said a few times that, to her, THE DUFF is the FOREVER . . . of our generation. Now, I knew this was a maaaaaassive compliment - becaue any comparison to Judy Blume is earth shattering in my eyes. But after reading FOREVER . . . today, I know that comparison is so not accurate.

Because nothing - NOTHING - can live up to a book like FOREVER . . .

FOREVER . . . is still the FOREVER . . . of my generation. By that I mean that, rereading it thirty year after it was released, it still felt like a YA novel you'd find onshelves today. It's still scandalously racy. It's still true, in many ways, to the way teenagers speak. It's still right on point about so many teenage relationhips.

In short, FOREVER . . . is basically timeless. As are all of Mrs. Blume's books.

This still doesn't totally explain why she's my hero - I'm getting to that.

Here's the thing about Judy Blume. There is one word that describes her consistantly, and that word is "fearless." She holds nothing back. She doesn't write with the fear of censorship or being banned. She just tells the story that needs to be told, and she tells it with such honesty and skill that they will forever be accurate - and, by some parents - forever be hated.

But by young women - and some young men, too - Judy is loved. I don't know what I would have done as a little girl without Margaret or Deenie, who both taught me just how normal I was, even when I feared that I wasn't.

When I write, I write with Judy Blume in mind. It was her fearlessness that made for many, many classics. Her fearlessness in many ways saved me.

So I hope that, one day, I can be that fearless and honest, too.

So, cheers to Judy Blume - who should be honored during Banned Books week. She is my hero, and I don't think I would ever be a writer without her.


Katy Upperman said...

Great post, Kody! I read Forever... a few months ago and adored it. You're right, Judy Blume is fearless, and it's amazing how well her books have held up to the test of time. While I was reading Forever... I had to keep reminding myself that it was thirty years old. Hard to believe!

Congrats on all your success with The DUFF!

Lisa Marie Miles said...

Judy Blume is the reason I'm a writer today. I reread Are You There, God? recently and it brought me right back to being 12 years old and reading it in bed at night. I love how simply she writes, not bogged down with descriptions, etc. I write the same way (not nearly as well, though!).

Daisy Whitney said...

Go Judy! Go Kody!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

i love reading Judy blume to my daughter its bringing back memories

Bee said...

I read Forever when I was 15 and it changed my changed my world. I mean, how can anyone write something so freaking true?

You said it. Judy Bloom is timeless.

Jude said...

this post gave me chills!

ate fries last night; thought of you <3

storyqueen said...

Excellent post.

I have a daughter that's almost 12....I think maybe it's time for a little Margaret.

(I love the image of you and your mom sharing this book aloud....)


Dee (GoodChoiceReading) said...

Hey Kody!

I just wanted to let you know that I loved your book!

Here is my review and I hope you like it... I was trying not to give to much away, but make sense at the same time haha.

Lisa said...

Judy Blume is one of my writing heroes too. I just read her adult novel, Wifey, and it's now one of my favorite books. Of course, I'll always love Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? and Blubber.

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Claire Dawn said...

I read some Judy Blume as a kid, but I've also never read Forever. I really need to.

Joanna said...

Here, here, Kody!

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vyxen said...

Good friggin' call. I love Judy Blume so, so much. Summer Sisters is my all-time favourite. Well. And Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, of course. :)

She is mighty inspiring. :)

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Great post. And right on. I read Forever when I was young and revisited it with a post during Banned Books Week. It is the best, and is a large part of why I write the books I write.

Chandler Craig said...

I read Forever... in college and I loved it. There's such a sense of nostalgia you get from reading Judy Blume. It's a wonderful book and I, personally, can't wait to share her books when I have kids. Of course, Forever... will come a bit later.

Kristen said...

I grew up on Judy Blume as well and i never read FOREVER. I'm definitely adding it to my to-be-read pile. I just finished THE DUFF tonight. I put off math homework (and all other homework) for a day now. I stayed up until a ridiculous hour tonight all because I could not put your book down, lol! I loved Bianca. I would have been friends with her in high school... It was such a refreshing read, so completely honest and you had me laughing out loud and crying all at the same time (I haven't been like that since I was preggers *snort*) You are a very talented author and I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Lacee Bowersox said...

I enjoyed the book forever. Judy Blume is dffinitly amazing! I got your book DUFF today from my library and i finished in like an hour ago and its 3 a.m & i have school tomorrow lol. I couldnt stop reading i was very impressed i loved it alot. Ive read atleast over 300 to 400 books i liv in a small town and i have to say thats one one of the best i have ever read. It reminds me of books by sarah dessen she is one of my favorites i own everyone of her books and im buying DUFF I absolutly loved it. I Hope You Write Another One ASAP:p Thanks So Much.

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