I’m back with a Marvelous Middle Grade Book review, another Judy Blume book.
This one is a two-fer: two books in one volume. Judy Blume gives us yet another peek into life as a preteen girl. Her stories take us back to our own stumbling early adolescent years. How did we ever survive it all? Judy Blume shows us how others can, have, and do.
The first story is Just as Long as We’re Together, about two long time best friends, Stephanie and Rachel, who befriend the new girl in their neighborhood and school, Alison. How will the dynamics play out if “two’s company and three’s a crowd?” Can you have more than one best friend in seventh grade?
There are other threads besides friendship running through this story, which is told from Stephanie’s ever optimistic point of view. There are family secrets and changes, ‘tween worries, problems in school, relationship changes, body issues, and emerging attraction in “boy-girl” relations. Stephanie faces a genuine crisis in her home life that she doesn’t see until it slaps her in the face. The other girls aren’t portrayed as fully, but they have problems of their own, which makes for an engrossing read. It’s funny, poignant, dramatic, and thoroughly entertaining. Another must read by Judy Blume.
The second story is Here’s to You Rachel Robinson, which tells the story from Rachel’s point of view. Judy Blume intended to write a third book from Alison’s perspective, but sadly that hasn’t happened. Still there’s enough of Alison in both of these books to intrigue. At first I wasn’t that interested in Rachel’s story. She’s an overly sensitive, perfectionist preteen, who seems to be a success in everything she does. When Ms. Blume goes deeper into Rachel’s psyche and we seen all her worries, fears, desires, and her family problems, then we become more sympathetic and the story became more interesting and compelling.
We all know families who seem outwardly “perfect” until you hear of a hidden problem or secret. Or until something dramatic happens, such as a divorce of the perfect couple, or a disease, or suicide, or bankruptcy, and so forth. Everyone and every family has their own problems, perhaps even more than yours. In this story, we see that life isn't so perfect for Rachel and she has a lot to cope with in her home, school, and personal life.
Many thanks to Judy Blume for such compelling middle grade novels. More about Ms. Blume and her great middle grade books at:
Judy Blume, Stephanie, Rachel, Alison, preteen, adolescent, tween, middle grade, children’s literature.