February 12: God? It’s Me, Judy

Judy Blume, who redefined the terms of acceptable discourse in children’s literature on her way to selling eighty million copies of her books and seeing them translated into thirty-one languages, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on this date in 1938. Her best-known works include Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which deals with menstruation and religious uncertainty, and features a “half-Jewish” kid; Blubber, which reckons with bullying; Just as Long as We’re Together, which deals with divorce; and Forever, about teen sex. Her three novels for adults — Summer Sisters, Smart Women, and Wifey— have all been bestellers. Blume has faced censorship more than almost any American author and is active on the board of the National Coalition Against Censorship. In 2004, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her other honors include the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Library Association, and the Living Legends Award of the Library of Congress. Blume has received many thousands of letters from her young readers. “What has changed,” she wrote twelve years ago in Newsweek, “are the numbers of letters about family violence, incest and other abuses. There are letters expressing such hopelessness and despair they leave me in tears.”

“My mother, who went to high school with Philip Roth’s mother, met Mrs. Roth on the street. Mrs. Roth had some advice for her. ‘When they ask how she knows those things, you say, I don’t know, but not from me!’ I’m sure my mother used that line more than once.” —Judy Blume


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