5 lessons we learnt from Judy Blume

16 March 2015

By Pan Macmillan

The summer holidays have come to a decisive end and the children are back in the classroom. The return of the school run and the fact that Facebook has been entirely taken over with photos of cute kids in uniform, shiny and smiling at the prospect of their first day, has got us thinking about our own school days and the books we read then. 

Who came out as our undisputed favourite author? That's right: Judy Blume. Which prompted us to load up our e-readers with Judy's best, and thereby transport ourselves through time. Suddenly, we were back to being thirteen, staying up late to read just one more chapter, by torchlight, under the covers. We pored over her hilarious, tear-jerking and, above all, honest stories all over again, stories that, the first time round, taught us everything about love, loss and heartbreak.

Sometimes we think we learnt more from Judy than we did from our teachers... 

5 Lessons We Learnt from Judy Blume

1. Why you should never lie to your best friend. Here's to you Rachel Robinson

Rachel is the youngest in a family of high-achievers. She’s also the cleverest. But it’s not easy being super-intelligent. Rachel falls out with her best friends after she tries to hide the fact she's taking advanced classes. Moral of the story - it's much better to tell the truth!

2. How to conquer your fears and deal with loss: Tiger Eyes

Davey’s father has been murdered – and the aftermath is causing her family to fall apart. Her heartbroken mum plucks them up and takes them to stay with her prim and proper aunt in Los Alamos. Davey escapes the claustrophobic house by cycling up to the canyon, where she meets a mysterious older boy called Wolf: intense, brooding, and also about to lose someone close to him. But falling for someone won't make her dad come back - there are no easy answers when you need to stick your broken family back together . . .
3.How to be true to yourself: Deenie

'I hate it when my mother brags about me and my sister. "Deenie's the beauty and Helen's the brain."'

Mrs Fenner has very fixed ambitions for her daughters. Deenie is thirteen years old and gorgeous. Her mother wants her to be a model – but Deenie's not so sure. So when she's diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine – Deenie's almost relieved. No more traipsing round modelling agencies, no more living up to her mother's expectations. But she has to wear an ugly, uncomfortable back brace for the next four years. And she's convinced that it will put an end to normal teenage life – including her blossoming relationship with Buddy Brader . . .


4. Why you should never name your child Ralph (and sex eduction in general): Forever

Still the bravest, freshest, fruitiest and most honest account of first love, first sex and first heartbreak ever written for teens. It was a book ahead of its time – and remains, after thirty years in print, a teenage bestseller.

5. How to increase our bust:  Are you there, God? It's me Margaret

Ok so maybe this one doesn't apply today but at the time it was a revelation - 'I must, I must, I must increase my bust!'
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
Tiger Eyes
Tiger Eyes