Judy Blume, the young adult author the Wrap calls the “undisputed champion of misunderstood twelve-year-old girls everywhere,” is putting out her first adult book since “Summer Sisters” was published in 1998.
Many women can tell you when and where they first read a Judy Blume book, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of them can’t remember how exactly they got their hands on it. That’s because, like a beloved pet or a well-worn pair of sneakers, Judy Blume’s books were always just sort of there, part of the architecture and set dressing of many a young girl’s life. Devoured during recess or pored over under the glow of a mini-flashlight after parents said their goodnights, Blume’s books were dog-eared talismans that, for a significant segment of the American female population, marked the passage from childhood to adolescence.
Blume’s Knopf editor, Carole Baron, wouldn’t reveal much about the new book, but she told John Williams of the New York Times: “It’s pure Judy Blume, writing about family and about friendships, about love, about betrayal … It’s quintessential Judy.”
Though Blume’s new book is for grownups, she is widely regarded as the Queen of YA, a title that could be a dubious one were it bestowed on anyone else.
In a recent “Colbert Report” interview, John Green, the author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” found himself addressing the intellectual stigma that seems to accompany books hit with the YA label. It’s a strange literary no-man’s-land for readers who aren’t in the target age range. Adults weren’t ashamed to admit their love for “Harry Potter,” which started as a children’s book whose characters grew up with its audience; plenty of single, childless people own copies of the series and proudly display them. But if YA titles are found on your bookshelves — newer releases, not older ones you kept for nostalgia’s sake — you get looks. People assume the writing you enjoy is empty and facile, and that by extension, so are you.
Man, book people can be a judge-y bunch, no?
“This has been called a ‘young adult novel,'” host Stephen Colbert said. “How do you feel about that term, ‘young adult novel’? Because as far as I can tell, a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read. It seems like when you call something a ‘young adult novel,’ there’s a ghettoization of it.”
“There is, in a way,” Green said. “But there’s also that connotation, ‘Oh, I might like reading this.’ There’s nothing wrong with — I love being a pop writer. I want to stay one.”
The attraction to the genre seems to run in the family. Green is one half of the Vlogbrothers. His brother Hank is one of the brains behind “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a 21st century retelling of “Pride and Prejudice.”
With her new project, Blume will have a quartet of adult books that includes “Summer Sisters,” “Wifey” and “Smart Women.”
“I’m both thrilled and terrified, my usual feelings at this point,” Blume said in a statement. “I’ll be hiding out this summer revising, my favorite part of the process.”
h/t The Wrap