In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Knopf; 1st Edition (June 2, 2015)
Amazon Book Description:
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, 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.
Reading Sara Review:
I love Judy Blume.
I wanted to love this book.
I thought it was ok.
The story is fictional, but the events that the book weaves the characters through did happen in the 1950s, three plane crashes within three months in one town of Elizabeth, New Jersey. After learning this, and learning that Judy Blume grew up in this town where these crashes occurred, I was honestly more interested in the stories of the crashes than the stories of the characters from her novel.
The book has a couple of primary characters, and I found Miri likeable as a young girl falling in love for the first time. The rest of the characters were not developed enough for me – and honestly there were too many of them. I was confused every time a new character was introduced, and it became difficult to connect who was who.
In general, I like books that take place over two time-periods, but the later time-period was not developed enough for me to care what happened to these characters 35 years later. Some of it felt too random for me, or characters that I thought we were supposed to be invested in were not relevant anymore. And some characters apparently were relevant, but I did not entirely understand why.
I will still continue loving Judy Blume, and I don’t not recommend this book. It just wasn’t for me, but maybe you will love it. Share your thoughts when you read it, I’d love to hear!
***Spoilers Ahead – not plotline spoilers, but facts about the crashes that you may want to avoid if you would rather be surprised!
I did some research after finishing the book on the plane crashes in Elizabeth, and was amazed at how many details from Blume’s story happened. Especially how the one of the planes barely missed a school and another barely missed Janet Memorial, the orphanage (and orphans really did save many lives after the 3rd crash by pulling survivors out of the plane before it caught fire). Here are some pictures from the time that I found that you might find interesting too:
New York Times Photo from CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/judy-blume-resilient-in-life-and-fiction/)
Second Photo from article from NJ.com (http://www.nj.com/entertainment/arts/index.ssf/2015/05/how_three_planes_crashed_in_elizabeth_in_50s.html)