The Great Ones: Judy Blume, Queen of the Ordinary (in the Best Possible Way)

Here is what I think Judy Blume does: she manages to make a person live and speak.

And she's not about showing off: she doesn't go for the smartest characters. Or the best. She's not about kids' being precocious. She goes for the ordinary: for Jill in Blubber. For Margaret.

And there's something so ennobling about their supposed ordinariness, because of course just as there is no normal, ordinary is similarly elusive. By not making her characters superspecial, she allows them their full humanity, and it feels like grace. 

Blume is willing to honor her characters' everday concerns—and she never talks down to them. Even while you feel the wry authorial eye having a reasonable perspective—Oh! How I love Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great!—there's no distance, either sentimental or contemptuous. It's as if she's just being a mother in the best possible way for her characters: wryly amused, clear-eyed, loving. It's almost a way of imagining what it feels like to be good enough.

I feel like I sound borderline insane here, but at least I know I mean it: I think that the way her writing works, its intense power (and no, I'm not talking about Forever and Ralph, people) is its unpretentious humanity.

She's just so awesome.

4 thoughts on “The Great Ones: Judy Blume, Queen of the Ordinary (in the Best Possible Way)

  1. I totally agree with everything you said. Just can’t wait to give my son Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.


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