Its that time of year again! Actually, this is only my second time participating in The 1977 Club which is put on by Simon of Stuck in a Book and Karen of Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings. The idea is simple, just read a book published in the club year (they move decades, next time it is back to the 1920s) and blog about it.
Soooo, there are a couple of books I have out from the library that I am still reading and may post about later, but I think I will be the only blogger who read Judy Blume for this event. 😊
In 1977 I turned 12 and my Aunt gave me a signed copy of this book. I began junior high that year and actually was a couple of years too old for this book. At 12 I was just starting to read "adult" books and I remember thinking this was too childish for me. I believe am actually better able to appreciated it now upon re-reading. I think this book was possibly (given the level of history taught to me in elementary school) my first encounter with the Holocaust as well as with segregation in the U.S. South. The miniseries "Roots" was first broadcast in 1977 and in 1978 "The Holocaust" miniseries (with Meryl Streep and Tovah Feldshuh who I loved) came out. Yes, I learned a lot of history from television supplemented by books!
I mentioned these historical events because these are things that young Sally is also grappling with, but in real time, as a 10 year-old Jewish girl moving to Florida from New Jersey in the late 1940s. She doesn't really know what a concentration camp is or why there are separate drinking fountains at the drug store. Blume really gets children and how they are aware of but don't fully understand the adult world. Sally thinks that Adolf Hitler might be hiding out in her Miami neighborhood. She dreams of being a spy in Germany and killing Hitler and rescuing her cousin Lila who did not survive the war. She also dreams of being discovered by Hollywood and starring in movies with her idols Margaret O'Brian and/or Esther Williams. I remember having equally ludicrous (but very real to me) fantasies as a 10 year old.
Blume is also not shy about showing Sally in a negative but realistic light. Kids are mean sometimes. The author is also frank about how kids are curious about sex and romance...even though they don't really know exactly what it is they are questing after. I do remember appreciating that as a child, in particular in Are You There God, It's Me Margaret which I did read when I was maybe 10 or 11.
I don't think I would recommend this book to an adult unless they were a die-hard Judy Blume fan, but I think it would probably still entertain a ten year-old reader and might encourage them to delve in to history. I had a lot of fun re-visiting it.