Author: Judy Blume
Provided Synopsis: 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.
Review: In Elizabeth, New Jersey, during the winter of 1952, three planes mysteriously fell out of the sky. Amongst the dead are those aboard the flights and those living in the town at the point of impact. Those who witnessed the unthinkable occur are left to recover. In the Unlikely Event follows the lives of numerous characters during that winter, detailing how they are forever changed by the devastation.
Judy Blume is an author I have read nearly all my life; therefore, I was very excited to learn she had a new book to publish this year. And while I found her story easy to read, there were troublesome aspects that made this a book I would never dissuade someone from reading, nor would I recommend it either. I did not hate this book; I was just very distanced from it because of the way it was structured. I believe the main character is a teenage girl named Miri, especially since the end of the book features the wrap-up of her story and those within limited degrees of separation from her. But what about everyone else?
This book had what might have been twenty point-of-views. Sometimes, these point-of-views would last only half a page before switching to someone else. Because of this I felt as if I were reading numerous character sketches that did not allow me to become completely engaged with the story; I would be given a snapshot in time, and then pushed on. This structure also did not work for me in terms of the relationship ordeal revealed at the end of the story; in hindsight, I can think back and note it, but I was oblivious to it as I read because I never connected with the characters enough to understand their motivations and emotions. Too many point-of-views became this story’s downfall.