9 reviews

In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume

Published: 2015-06-02
Hardcover : 416 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 9 of 9 members

In her highly anticipated new novel, Judy Blume, the New York Times # 1 best-selling author of Summer Sisters and of young adult classics such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, creates a richly textured and moving story of three generations of families, friends and ...

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In her highly anticipated new novel, Judy Blume, the New York Times # 1 best-selling author of Summer Sisters and of young adult classics such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, creates a richly textured and moving story of three generations of families, friends and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by unexpected events.
In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.

Early reviewers have already weighed in: “Like many family stories, this one is not without its life-changing secrets and surprises. There is no surprise that the book is smoothly written, and its story compelling. The setting—the early 1950s—is especially well realized through period references and incidents.” —Booklist (starred review) and “In Blume’s latest adult novel . . . young and old alike must learn to come to terms with technological disaster and social change. Her novel is characteristically accessible, frequently charming and always deeply human.” —Publishers Weekly

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of June 2015: Three planes crash in a small town in New Jersey over the course of just two short months. Sounds like the backdrop of a horror movie, or in this post 9/11 world, something more sinister. But this actually happened in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950s, when beloved children’s author Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.) was a young girl, experiencing the horror firsthand. Who, or what, was responsible—Communists? Martians? With no obvious explanation to cling to for comfort, this terrified community could only wait for something much bigger than the next shoe to drop. This is all big, mind-blowing stuff. But in her novel In the Unlikely Event, which like Summer Sisters is written for an adult audience, Blume travels back to that time and tells the more intimate stories within the larger one, to help us better comprehend the incomprehensible, and learn the lessons that are the only bright side of catastrophe. And the overarching moral, here, is to not let fear limit your possibilities. Through the various characters that inhabit this multigenerational tale, Blume beseeches us to not be afraid to get on a plane, take career risks, pursue your dreams, fall in love…After all, life is made up of unlikely events, and they “aren’t all bad. There are good ones, too.” --–Erin Kodicek


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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Ask members if they understood what was meant by being a finalist in the Miss Rheingold Contest. It is definitely a late 1950s, early '60s reference.
by louritt (see profile) 09/23/15

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by Kate E. (see profile) 03/07/24

by Yazmin N. (see profile) 06/02/19

by Amanda K. (see profile) 01/02/18

by Shelly B. (see profile) 08/05/17

  "Interesting but nothing special. "by Kim K. (see profile) 10/22/16

We need a 'mayby' button...thumbs to the side??? Our book club picked this one because some had grown up reading Judy Blume or had read her to their children. Most were a little disappointed... (read more)

  "In The Unlikely Event"by Joan P. (see profile) 09/02/16

Pro...Really nailed the 50's brought me right back to that time; the events seem far-fetched but knowing it is based on a true story helped to put it in perspective; many themes that resona... (read more)

by Carolyn R. (see profile) 01/26/16

by Helen A. (see profile) 12/15/15

  "In the Unlikely Event"by Louise R. (see profile) 09/23/15

Set in Elizabeth, NJ and I spent 63 of my 71 years not too far away. Related to "time & period" references (Zenith TV, Miss Rheingold Contest, MG fire in 1980, etc.) Slow start, but once all the characters... (read more)

by Anne C. (see profile) 08/26/15

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