In the High Peaks

Monday, August 31, 2015

Reflecting on In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Well, it's still summer in the North Country. This week will see temps in the mid-80s all week and lots of that lovely humidity to go with it. Labor Day is late this year--Monday, September 7th--, and its late arrival always feels weird to me. As if it's shortening our already way-too-short autumn. Already lots of the red maples are turning color. "Stop!" I want to shout at them. "Wait until it becomes cool enough for hiking and enjoying the outdoors."

I so very much enjoyed reading In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume, an adult book she labored over for five years, from 2009-2014. A tremendous amount of research went into this novel, which, for most people, will be considered an historical novel, given that it's set in 1951-1952 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the site of three horrific airline crashes between December 1951 and April 1952.

What makes this novel especially realistic and fascinating is that Judy Blume was a young teen in Elizabeth during this time (Blume was born 12 February 1938). Her characters are rich, and as always, she is so unbelievably in tune with her teenage characters, especially the impressionable 15-year-old Mira, the character at the heart of the story. But what makes this book is that she's not the only character from whose point of view the story is told. It's also the story of her entire family, her neighbors, and her most devoted friends, who also figure prominently. I think Blume's talent of drawing readers into her world of rich characters,  coupled with the extensive research she did that made this book the creation it is. Blume is now 77 years old, which is hard to believe. She's been such a fixture in children's and young adult literature, and in her constant battle against censorship in American letters. Best wishes to her! And please, Judy, may we have another book?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Very Late August and Fall Reading Bonanza

You may have recalled, months ago, that I hinted at a career change. Since May 12 and due to end tomorrow, August 23, 15 weeks later, I will have completed an arduous course so that I can receive my certificate from Boston University in Genealogical Research. Yes, I will be hanging out my shingle to practice professional genealogy. This jibes perfectly with my intense interests in U.S. History. My initial specialties are in the areas of New York and New England genealogical research, with a special interest in the Colonial Period (1620-1776). I have loads more education to pursue, but I will be doing that alongside professional work in the future.

So! Because the stress of the past weeks have led to a full-blown case of shingles just diagnosed yesterday, I will start, slowly, to resume a more normal, balanced, and hopefully healthier lifestyle, because all I've been able to do, literally, for all this time is study and work on assignments and reports. I learned a tremendous amount, but the human cost was high.

That's why I'm happy to announce that in this initial let-down period, due to begin tomorrow, reading adventures will be a central focus. Walking to regain strength and stamina will be an equally important plan.

Second Life by S. J. Watson was such a huge disappointment! His debut Before I Go to Sleep was so mind-blowing, so original that I almost can't believe that he wrote such a hum-drum thriller as Second Life. Maybe he was too busy writing the screenplay to the Before I Go to Sleep movie, which is supposed to be out? About to come out, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, among others. Have you read Second Life or the debut novel?

I have so many books to read next. I started In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume last night before bed. Blume grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. From the late fall of 1952 through the late winter of 1953, three separate commercial airplanes crashed into this densely inhabited town just west of Newark, New Jersey. Blume was a young teenager at the time, a most impressionable age. In any event, this is a work of fiction, but it's clear she's drawing on her memories of the times. It's reading beautifully at this point and is from the point of view of a young teen.

I haven't read a Julia Spencer-Fleming mystery for at least a year, and it's high time I read one. Thou Shall Not Want is my next title in the series. It's my favorite mystery series, as I know I've mentioned before.

I hope you can expect more regular posts from me in the weeks to come. The grueling part of my 2015 has come to an end.