I remember being in 5th grade and my school was having a book fair. Breaking open my piggy bank (actually it was a Campbell’s soup bank), I took all my money to school that day. I always loved books, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading something, anything. So, off I went to school with money in hand. I heard my friends shrieking over the Beverly Cleary books, the new Nancy Drew book, and as I walked over to a spinning rack of books, one book in particular caught my eye. It was, “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret”.
I don’t know why, but something made me hold Judy’s book tightly against my chest, and not really share what I purchased that day. You see, I was a 5th grader, coming from a broken and abused home, living with my great-grandmother, and somehow going to a private school where everyone arrived happy and seemed to have their life together….but me. I realize now, looking back at my younger self, that nothing is ever as it appears. However, I certainly always felt the odd person out.
From that point on, I was a Judy Blume girl. I bought anything Judy. She was the mom I so desperately wanted for myself. Well, any person who was not emotionally or physically abusive would do! From each page, I learned it was okay to be different, okay to ask questions, okay to be me, and despite my childhood, still have value in this world. Reading Judy Blume books served 2 purposes for me: I learned from the journey of each character how to survive my pre-teen and teen years, and also there was this other voice-the voice of the author, that somehow made me feel not so alone.
Now, as a parent of 2 teenage sons and 1 preschooler, I have those same conversations with my children, that Judy had with all her young readers: forbidden love, feelings of inadequacy, first time crushes, etc. There is nothing in my household that is taboo. Most of all, I realize that God was there all along, and Judy was the voice God used to talk to me at such a young age. I don’t have many fond memories of my childhood, but Judy is that ever present light that gave me hope to move forward and to know that it truly does get better.
Thank-you Judy, for being my surrogate mom and for teaching me to value myself, that I do have a voice, and that I matter.
- Armchair BEA: Genre-Picture Books to Young Adult (booksintheburbs.com)
- Judy Blume book finally makes the big screen with ‘Tiger Eyes’ adaptation (upi.com)
- Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (nochargebookbunch.com)
- 13 Things We Learned From Judy Blume’s AMA (flavorwire.com)
- Author Judy Blume Hosts Charlottesville Film Screening, Book Signing (newsplex.com)
- The Collected Wisdom of Judy Blume (flavorwire.com)
- Judy Blume And Her Son On Their ‘Tiger Eyes’ Movie (!!!!) (radioalice.cbslocal.com)
- Tiger Eyes the Movie: Meeting Judy Blume, again, 30 years later (beccarama.com)
- Judy Blume thoughts on censorship (jillbaker75.wordpress.com)