Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Sara and Melissa....Write Letters to Judy Blume

We've been running a column series (for over three years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we decided to write letters to Judy Blume. Judy's fans have written her these beautiful and heartfelt letters, but somehow we never did that when we were growing up, even though we were both fans of her books. So it's time we got around to it! 

Courtesy of NPR

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them. 

Melissa Amster:

Dear Judy,

This letter is probably long overdue. I read a book when I was in middle school, where you answered letters from fans who had written to you. I loved reading your answers to some difficult situations and it was comforting to me, even if I wasn't going through those situations personally. I don't know why I didn't write a letter back then. I wish I had though! When I saw your documentary on Amazon about a month ago, it reminded me how I never wrote you a letter. Especially after seeing how you connected so well with your fans who did take the time to write. So here I am now. 

My all-time top three favorite books of yours are Blubber, Deenie, and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. Why those three in particular? I read Blubber often because I was also bullied a lot when I was growing up. Even though it is written from the perspective of someone who is witnessing the bullying, I felt a kinship with Linda (a.k.a. Blubber). Deenie was relatable because she had something that made her different from her peers. I felt that kinship with her too, seeing that I didn't fit in that well in school. It was also such a well-written story that I read it multiple times. Sally was just relatable because she was Jewish. Even though her story took place in a different time period, it was still an entertaining read. Honestly, I forgot all about the Holocaust mentions until it was brought up in the documentary. I also loved the Florida setting and thought it was fun that she got to go to the beach a lot. 

I recently took my daughter to see Are You There G-d? It's Me, Margaret. It's been a long time since I read the book, but I did remember some aspects. Being a late bloomer as a kid, the book was definitely relatable. The movie was really well done and I enjoyed seeing the parents' perspectives, as well. I also love that it was set in the same time period as the book, instead of being moved to the 2020s and everyone relying on social media. It was a nice bonding experience to see it with my daughter and I know she appreciated it. While she hasn't read your coming-of-age stories, I really hope she will. I'm always recommending them to her! (I will make her wait a bit to read Forever though, knowing what I know. One word: Ralph.) 

Excited to see Are You There...

Fun side note: I hadn't really been into audiobooks, but the first time I tried them was with In the Unlikely Event. Because that one was done so well, I decided to listen to many more audiobooks on my commutes to and from work, back when I worked in an office. So thanks for that!

Anyway, I just want to thank you for writing such memorable and comforting books. It stinks that people wanted to ban them the same way people are now trying to ban books that have any kind of diversity in them (especially those of the LGBTQ+ variety). I wish you had written books with LGBTQ+ characters back in the day, as I feel like that could have made a difference in a time when someone really needed that kind of character to relate to. It's different nowadays, when there are so many books to choose from in this genre. Anyway, it's not like you can turn back time and change that and if you didn't have experience with the topic, it wouldn't be fair for you to write about it. I am confident you helped fans of yours who wrote letters trying to figure that out for themselves back in the day. I do feel like you have inspired a lot of today's authors though, especially the ones who are really telling it like it is through their books. 

I hope you get a chance to read this letter and to know how much you are loved and appreciated by your Gen X fans (like me) and even those who are just now learning about your books because of a wonderful new movie! 

Thank you,

Sara Steven:

Hi Judy,

When I was a kid, I didn’t know I could write you a letter. I’m trying to imagine what I would have said back then, considering just how many of your books I’d read, and how much your writing had meant to me in those formative years. 

The Fudge series got me through the highs and lows of balancing a relationship with a younger sibling. Blubber showed me both sides to bullying and the consequences that can come with it–on the receiving end, and on the giving end, too. Freckle Juice focused on what it’s like to want something you can’t have, and how most of the time, what you’ve got is already more than enough. Tiger Eyes dealt with mature subject matter that in many ways I could relate to during my childhood. 

When we recently discovered that my eldest son has a curvature to his spine that will need to be monitored, my first thought was Deenie. And of course, who wasn’t touched by Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? It’s unforgettable.

Many of us in our youth didn’t have an open, honest relationship with our parents. I know I never felt like I could ask about the tough stuff that seemed off limits, like sexuality, or bodily functions, or the deeper, darker subjects I feared would potentially get me grounded–or worse. You gave allowance for it. You bravely addressed what so many of us had wanted answers to, in a way that could be relatable and understood. 

You provided insight for us adults, too; Wifey showed me that it’s okay to step outside the societal norms and ideals that are often placed on women, particularly women in marriage and with families, so that a woman can feel as though it’s acceptable to make herself a priority. Often, that isn’t the case.

I grew up with your words. I passed those words on to my boys, who in turn read the Fudge series–Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing really seemed to resonate with my younger son, particularly when he was in that grade. Your creativity inspired me to write my own short stories when I was a child, a love for writing that has carried through into my adulthood.

It is no surprise to me that you have touched so many lives. Judy Blume Forever really showcased that. You were never required to respond to your fan mail. You didn’t have to go to one fan’s graduation when her own family dropped the ball, or check in with other fans to make sure they’re okay. You do those things because you’re a beautiful human being; someone who genuinely cares about our youth and knows how important it is to be supportive, particularly during the formative years. 

Thank you for all you’ve done for me–and thank you for all you continue to do.  


Have you ever written a letter to Judy Blume? If not, what would you say if you could write one to her now?

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

No comments: