Review – In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

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In the Unlikely Event

by Judy Blume

Summary: In her highly anticipated new novel, Judy Blume, the New York Times # 1 best-selling author of Summer Sisters and of young adult classics such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, creates a richly textured and moving story of three generations of families, friends and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by unexpected events.
In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.
Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume imagines and weaves together a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by these disasters. She paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place — Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
In the Unlikely Event is a gripping novel with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling.

Source: I purchased a hardcover from a local used bookstore.

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Review:

I jumped on the chance to read this book when I saw a very nice copy in the used bookstore. It’s a rare occasion to find Judy Blume books at used bookstores because I think people hang on to their own copies more often, so I considered myself lucky to have found it.The plot seemed quite interesting and I loved that Miri would be the main character as a child. I love looking at the past through the eyes of a younger narrator sometimes. I was interested in her childhood and the unlikely events that would change her life. It’s a great POV because it holds the same nostalgia for the past, along with the growing pains and obstacles that come with growing up and realizing adults are flawed.

It is difficult to review the book because I liked it and enjoyed the plot, but did not enjoy actually reading it. I often found myself not wanting to read because it was cumbersome to get through. There were entirely too many POVs and, while I was genuinely interested in their lives and story arcs, I felt passed around too much and I hate being pulled out of an interesting POV and shoved back into a POV that I was interested in before it switched around and I have to gather the energy to re-care about their lives. It was exhausting. I don’t know why so many authors think constant POV switches are good because they absolutely drive me crazy.

While I loved getting to know Miri and the events that came to shape her life, I feel vaguely frustrated by the direction of the novel altogether. I would have preferred it if the book had not dipped into the present day at all because I think that was ultimately what frustrated me. There was little reason for the character to be in the present and tell this story other than to reminisce, despite literally most of the important characters moving with her from NJ as a child. There was only one real person she was there to see and I just didn’t like the way that went at all and would rather have been left to wonder.

In the Unlikely Event was interesting, but I felt like it was more jumbled that I would have expected it to be and it was difficult to get through as a result. I would recommend it if you have the patience to sit through multiple POVs and enjoy vaguely frustrating endings that dwell on the missed opportunities and miscommunications of the past. I do think there’s an audience for that kind of nostalgia and bitter sweetness that just doesn’t work for me.

Star 2

 

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