Judy Blume on Margaret, Davey, and coping with death and periods


From The A.V. Club:

Judy Blume has given voice to the hopes and fears of pre-teens and teenagers since before many of her readers were even born. And even though some of her characters have now been teens for 30 or 40 years, they remain some of the most enduring in young-adult fiction. Blume speaks frankly to the timeless trials of puberty, raising the ire of many a school board with books like Deenie (masturbation), Forever… (teen sex), and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (periods and breasts), all the while earning her status as one of America’s most beloved authors. Tiger Eyes, the first big-screen adaptation of one of her books, opened in limited release on June 7, and is available on iTunes and Video On Demand.

The A.V. Club: Davey experiences very sudden loss when her father is murdered, and you’ve talked a bit about how you found yourself reflecting on the loss of your own father.
Judy Blume: I could have [been reflecting on that], but I wasn’t when I was writing it, or at least that’s what I think. I can’t believe now that I wasn’t thinking of it, but I would swear to you that I wasn’t. Sometimes that’s how novel-writing works: It’s so deep inside that you don’t know where it’s coming from. And certainly when I saw the movie, I thought, oh my God—it was so cathartic after all these years to see it.

I didn’t know that I was writing so much about my own experience of loss—not me so much as my experience of loss. To be young, to lose the parent who loves you unconditionally, the parent you identify with, to lose that parent forever—it’s hard. It’s a hard way to start your grown-up life. But [Davey] does this. And I suppose, I wish that there had been a Wolf and a Mr. Ortiz to help me understand that. I think I knew my father’s philosophy, because death played such an important role in his life, and therefore in my life. He was the baby of seven, and nobody lived to be 60. So, somebody was always dying in the family. It was rough. And the summer that my father died, my 25-year-old cousin died and left a baby, and her father died suddenly—and that was all the same time—and then my father died. So I knew what Mr. Ortiz and Wolf helped Davey understand. And that is what that beloved parent wants most of all for you is to live and to go on with your life, and to enjoy your life and to make the most of it. But I swear I didn’t know this when I was writing it.

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