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In the Unlikely Event
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Emily Bloor (emilybloor) | 104 comments Mod
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message 2: by Emily (last edited Jul 13, 2016 10:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emily Bloor (emilybloor) | 104 comments Mod
My Review:

As soon as I began this book I felt a nostalgia bubbling under the surface, and knew this was going to be a special novel. Very few authors can do what Judy Blume has done; capture the hearts of teenagers all over the world and then land back in their laps years later and relate once again - both by calling to the inner teen, and by being relevant to the older reader.

What started with the tone of a Young Adult novel, with our main character being only 15, progresses into a much more complex work which is clearly targeted to adults. The subject is by no means juvenile, and yet she treats the harrowing events that shape the characters lives with such grace and prolificness that it is easy to gloss over the tragedies being told. Within the comfort blanket of Blume's style you are therefore repeatedly struck by the horror of the events, and the dramatic twists and turns that occur in the characters lives.

This book was a great feat for any writer, with both a spiderweb of characters, events, and links to real occurrences (which the author herself lives through). The story is about so much more than the slice of time that it focusses on; three planes crash in Elizabeth, New Jersey, during a short period of time. Throughout the telling the characters lives are unravelled and we directly witness their paths changing course. This leads to the satisfying end where we are given the outcome of each characters personal story. Not many novels give the reader such closure, and it is certainly a reward for sticking with a long list of characters, which was initially hard to follow.

I felt a connection to Miri, and to the bittersweet friendships of teenage girls which Blume portrays excellently (it is, after all, her forte). Natalie's demise and change of character was significant, and it is easy to question whether this was directly related to the events or because of her parents divorce. Miri retains her sense of self, and when everything is falling apart around her she manages to continue to be a steady, well rounded character. Her flaws are therefore welcomed, she is after all a teenage girl - and we witness her go through the normal stages of adolescence whilst being forced in many ways to become an adult all too quickly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and felt it both enlightening, nostalgic, and written from the heart. It is the perfect example that sometimes real events are less believable than fiction, and the very events that inspired the story are a unique and sad part of history. Because of the complexity of the story and the characters lives it felt as though Blume had been waiting her whole life to write this book, and it is a great accomplishment in many ways.

I am keen to start the discussion as there are so many points I want to discuss!

Olivia DiGiammarino | 36 comments I'm sad to admit that I didn't read many Judy Bloom books when I was young, including 'Dear God It's Me Margaret' but after reading 'In the Unlikely Event' I wish I had. JB's distinctive character development is akin to J.K Rowling for me, each character is completely independent yet develops such strong relationships with the people around them that their character experiences the influences of a relationship along with the reader.

Miri was my favourite character over all. I felt very attached to her mental processes and the way she both bumbled and charged through the world. That motivation felt very similar to me. I also really enjoyed the story line with Christina and Jack as an 'interracial' or 'inter-cultural' couple. I especially enjoyed the story line of them having premarital sex and getting married out of fear; that drew very close to home for me. In the way that Christina is torn between the traditions her family instilled and her love for someone that must be justified.

Other than that, I felt like there were really two streams of people in this book. People that hold everything as tightly as possible and fear loosing control : Natalie, Mrs. Osner, Christina's whole family. Then there were characters who embraced chaos : Rusty, Mason, Daisy, Henry. Our main character Miri spends the book learning to fear or embrace change. So, whether or not these characters consider everything or anything an 'unlikely event', their reactions are what determine the depth of their suffering.

I do feel like a book longer than 350 pages is gratuitous. I definitely think this book was no exception to that. While I can appreciate JB's talent is for tone development and interweaving story lines I did feel like there was a lack of editing. Personally I didn't read any of Henry's articles after the first 100 pages. They were boring to me. Also, I felt like there could have been a greater focus on the politics of the time considering the family centred around a Jewish family. Although there was focus on the beginning of the Vietnam war, I would have imagined a different cultural context Post-WWII.

Ultimately, I gave this book 4 stars because I did feel very attached to particular characters, but felt it could have used refinement. Anyone who is a fan of JB should definitely read this.

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