Welcome back, Buzz Book Club readers! This month, we're focusing on how one of the iconic authors of my youth affected tons of women writers by reading the essay collection Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume. This week, we read another group of essays by writers who had some very different thoughts on how Blume's writing affected their lives.
But I'll get to that in a second. First, for those of you new to my book club format, here's how it works: Every week I'll suggest chapters to complete by the next post (which, in this case, will go up every Friday in July). In these weekly posts, I'll posit a few discussion-provoking questions for you to respond to in the comments section.
Of course, you are always welcome to read beyond the weekly chapters, but please don't spoil anything in the comments! After the jump, you'll find some questions that struck me as I read this section.
The next assignment: Read from "It Wasn't the End of the World" through "The Mother of All Balancing Acts." (Stop before "The Weenie Girl's Guide to Making Friends.") We'll discuss this section a week from today, July 24.
Now, to discuss the second section, in which we read through "Vitamin K, Judy Blume, and the Great Big Bruise," just
- I'm amazed how many of these writers have specific memories of the way Blume talked about sexuality and even masturbation. I don't remember Judy Blume's books being that dirty, but at least one of you said you remember being kind of uncomfortable with her sexual themes. Do you remember noticing that at the time you read Blume? Or were you oblivious?
- On a related note, do you think Judy Blume fans fall into "Sunday Cartoon Camp" and "After-School Special Camp," as Stacey Ballis suggests? And which were you?
- Another thing that's surprised me is how many of the writers mention Deenie! That book has come up in nearly every essay. I can't say it was ever my favorite, but looking back, it probably makes sense that it had such a deep effect on people: it deals a lot with themes of appearance, self-confidence, and identity that are often significant to teen and preteen girls. Were you a Deenie fan?
- I really enjoyed "Forever . . . Again" and the way the author discussed her rediscovery of Forever. . . as an adult. Would you ever turn to a favorite old book — especially a young adult book — for help with an adult problem? Do you ever reread books you loved as a teenager or preteen?
- At this point, I think I prefer the essays that don't talk about the author's own writing to the ones that do. Do you think it's odd when the writers talk about their own work? Or, since Blume inspired many of them to write in the first place, do you think it's perfectly appropriate?