Last week I had a sudden, out-of-the-blue, burning desire to read old Judy Blume books from my childhood. Instead, I settled for reading Wikipedia entries on them, and while I was surprised at how many of my old favorites I remembered point-for-point (like Blubber, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., and Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great), the one that had quite firmly lodged itself still in my head was Then Again, Maybe I Won’t. It’s not surprising; it was the “boy hits puberty amidst personal crisis” book (and the counterpoint in many ways to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.), after all.
I was surprised and intrigued to learn that a lot of Blume’s books have been edited/updated to reflect the modern day. Nothing huge and plot-point shattering, but small mentions like casette tapes turning into CDs, that sort of thing. I guess it surprised me in part because I remembered reading books that had belonged to my parents and grandparents when I was growing up and having no problem with the earlier time period, but also because it hit me that the tweaks were probably in part because the rest of the books are so completely fitting into the modern day already. Then Again, Maybe I Won’t with its story about members of the family assimilating when they move from Jersey City to a wealthy town in Long Island is the sort of thing that still goes on today, after all. People rejecting/ignoring their heritage to fit in more happens as much in 2008 as it did in 1972, when you think about it. Probably the only gaping hole in the comparison between the book’s original time period and now is the existence of the internet and search engines to get a lot of the answers that the main character was wondering about.
This weekend I’m half-tempted to head to the library and check out copies of the Blume books I never did get around to read, and maybe a few of the old favorites. (Never mind the 9000 other books I have waiting to be read.) Boy, those books were great.