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5/6 stars: Great book that I would recommend to most people. (e.g. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks)

The opening pages of this book took me back to my adolescence. Judy Blume and her way of capturing the mind of young women… no matter what time period they grew up in. She has such a distinctive way of writing that I can’t really put my finger on. She throws in details that put you in the characters’ shoes… or in the characters’ boudoir depending on what it is she’s trying to get across.

I kept a list of the brand names she referenced because that’s a thing with her. I remembered reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing in grade school and having to repeatedly ask my mom how to pronounce “Adidas” because the main character kept on referring to his “Adidas bag.” The brand names obviously put a time stamp on the material. While I was reading this book- I consulted my mom again for the pronunciation of “Lavoris.”

The women in this book didn’t have jobs- they “went to business.” Champagne was written with a capital “C” even when it came mid-sentence.

And it wouldn’t be a Judy Blume book without a really awkward, squirmy description of a sanitary belt situation! Perfection.

This was everything I wanted the new Judy Blume book to be.

All of my own nostalgia aside- this book was based on true events that happened to the town that Judy Blume grew up in. I suffered along with the characters trying to find a pattern, a meaning- some explanation of why three planes crashed over their town in such a short period of time. And there wasn’t an explanation- not in the book or in real life. The three crashes that shook Elizabeth, NJ were completely unrelated. It’s a ridiculous series of events which resulted in long-term effects in the minds of those who were left behind. Even those who didn’t know anyone in the crashes… the question “Why did this happen?” forever left unanswered.

It’s a question we all ask at some point in our lives- and the maddening fact is that there is often no answer.

 

P.S. I highly recommend drawing a diagram to keep track of the huge number of characters in the book. Here’s a rendering of mine… I left off the characters that I couldn’t remember now that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve read the book. I tried to make it with no spoilers. (Click on the picture for a larger view)

flow chart

P.S.S.

For fun, I kept a list of brand names she used in the book- Enjoy!

Noxzema
Breyer’s
Vanity Fair (slip)
Lilly Dache (stockings)
Lanz (nightgown)
Volupte
Hoovering (that’s “Hoover” as a verb- synonymous with “vacuuming with a Hoover”)
Cadillac
Packard
Ford
Champagne (with a capital “C”)
Juicy Fruit
Silver Screen (magazine)
Lavoris (mouthwash)
Remington (typewriter)
Scotch tape
Arpege
Maidenform
Smith Brothers (cough drops)
Oakley’s
Esterbrook
Bonwit’s

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