The Awkward Age

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Judy Blume Forever (2023)

Too often as a culture we wait until someone is dead before we say nice things about them. Judy Blume’s books have meant a great deal to a great many people. Since her first one was published in 1969 they have sold over 82 million copies; to put it another way, that’s about 4,000 books a day, nonstop, for over 50 years. Since most young adult literature has a shelf life of a decade – the time it takes for a generation to grow up – this is an earth-shattering achievement. Certainly at this reviewer’s school, Judy Blumes were passed around in secret, with absolute shock that an adult was talking about sex, masturbation and bullying, in ways which understood what we were feeling too. Ms. Blume’s great talent is for dealing with the dramas of being nine as seriously as the dramas of being 19, or 49, and being able to articulate all the feelings kids experience but can’t articulate themselves. Very few have matched her achievements, and on this scale it’s unlikely to happen again.

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What Lurks Beneath


By Lauren Groff
Illustrated. 364 pp.
Voice/William Heinemann.

Lifelong readers will understand that the odds of discovering a novel that lives up to the term's adjectival meaning grow increasingly smaller as time goes on. It's a matter of familiarity with narrative and literary tropes: the more books one digests, the more difficult it becomes to find something that truly surprises and delights in the same way all new novels used to, once upon a time. But that's exactly what makes the experience of the gems like Lauren Groff's "The Monsters of Templeton" so special.

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