In the Unlikely Event

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US hardcover, first edition.

In the Unlikely Event is a novel by Judy Blume published on 2015-06-02. Unlike most of Blume's books, this book is not written for children. The book is set in the early 1950s shortly after the Korean War and follows several characters as they try to cope with a series of plane crashes in their home town. The book is a fictional account of an actual series of plane crashes that took place in Blume's hometown, Elizabeth, New Jersey. The title comes from a common airplane safety speech, "in the unlikely event of a crash..."

After my daughters were born, I began re-reading a lot of children's books to find out which ones would be best to recommend to them. Having read several of Judy Blume's books while growing up, I began looking through her catalog. I vaguely remembered that she sparked controversy with Summer Sisters, and I saw this book was quite popular even three years after being published. After a few years of reading fiction primarily written by male authors—and finding a lot of it pretty awful—I sought out fiction by female authors which led me to this book. I'm glad I did this, because I really enjoyed the story.

Status

I do not own this book, but I have listened to it as an audio book, finishing on 2018-10-20.

Review

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The book is expertly written. All of the characters are interesting and overcome problems and show growth.
  • Blume does a good job describing scenes of romance and sex. She makes them exciting without being vulgar.
  • By changing the narrators, it allows you to see how the younger and older generations react to similar events. The children, itching to experience everything new, the parents, with the scars of wisdom keeping them subdued.
  • Blume doesn't shy away from the overt bigotry of the era. Families don't want their daughters to marry people of differing nationalities, religious people prefer people of the same religion regardless of their character, companies are allowed to deny employment based on race, sex, age, weight, and marital status, and men are disgustingly offensive to women.
  • Blume also makes it clear that the 1950s weren't like Leave It to Beaver. In addition to all the bigotry, women and men were having sex before marriage and, ignorant of the process, frequently getting pregnant out of wedlock, diseases that are no longer an issue were still running rampant, and there were many biological problems that couldn't yet be solved or even treated.

Bad

  • Despite being well-written, the story is quite depressing. It has a happy ending though.
  • The story is told from the perspective of over a dozen characters and jumps between them frequently. It was confusing for me at first to accurately picture whose head I was in, and I almost gave up on the book, but, after the characters became more real to me, I kind of liked being able to see the story from so many different angles.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Covers

I pretty much hate all of these covers. They're so tame for such an emotional book, and a couple of them don't given even the slightest idea of what the book is about.

Links

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