“Judy Blume Forever”

It’s a rite of passage that most of us remember: the time when we read our first Judy Blume book. I still look back fondly and can relive how it felt like the author really understood what it was like to be me. The legendary writer is the subject of the her own documentary “Judy Blume Forever,” an entertaining, warm film about Blume’s professional and personal life, as well as her legacy as the most censored children’s book author of all-time.

With a career that has spanned multiple decades, Blume has always been an author who identified with kids more than adults. She has a knack for remembering what it was like to be trapped in the hell of adolescence, and she speaks for kids and teens in a way that many grown ups never could. I first read “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” in the early 1980s, and there’s something enchanting about the fact that kids today are also turning the same pages as generations before. She was a trailblazer from the start.

Directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok capture Blume’s personality through candid interviews with the author herself. She has a cheery disposition and a sharp sense of humor, and she is a person who is a lot of fun to be around. It’s enjoyable to listen to Blume talk about her own coming-of-age as a writer and a woman, including refreshingly unreserved admissions about the mistakes she’s made along the way (including multiple failed marriages).

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and Blume recalls how she was told, when she was a housewife, that she was a bad writer. Even her husband would never read her books since it was just a silly hobby. Blume was determined to prove the naysayers wrong, and that she did. She has gone on to publish over 25 novels, win more than 90 literary awards, and sell more than 89 million copies of her books.

A large chunk of the documentary talks about Blume’s commitment to protecting banned books and fighting censorship, a cause that she works towards even today. It started early in her career when she was accused of writing “filth” because she included topics like menstruation, teenage sex, and masturbation in her books for young adults. It reached the height of suppression when America’s right wing contingent, egged on by Pat Robertson, took notice of the sexual mentions in her books. It was a time when she once received 700 death threats in one day.

The strongest part of the documentary features actual letters to and from Blume and her young fans, as the author had a tendency to not only keep every letter she was sent, but to also reply as an older, wiser pen pal. Pardo and Wolchok track down one of the most prolific writers, and it’s just a magical, fun part of the film.

“Judy Blume Forever” is a lovely tribute to a writer who has touched the lives of millions of young people. It’s a comprehensive, delightful look at one of America’s best selling authors of young adult novels.

By: Louisa Moore

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s