A Letter to Judy Blume

March 5, 2013


Dear Judy Blume,

Why did you have to die retire on me?*

I mean, I know you thought you’d done your job, lighting the flares and holding the compass in front of me while I stumbled through the path of puberty, and for that I am grateful. Your books were my road atlas.

But Judy, you didn’t think this through, this dying retiring thing. Because guess what? While my puberty is long gone in the dust, I still need you. I need you because my own daughter is in the chrysalis stage–thrumming–waiting to emerge a butterfly.

These changes are whacking me in the jaw and the bowels and I suck at trying to make any sense of it, not that my kid wants to hear it from me anyways, because believe me, I open my mouth and she flees like the Artful Dodger.

But Judy, you always made it seem okay. I’d don a nightgown, hunker in bed, crack open a cover, and in a matter of pages, I’d feel human again. I was home. Awkward, but not alone.

How many young women (Gaa! Gross. I am still in denial and have to clutch the term “girl” in my fist for just a bit longer, so forgive).

How many girls have reached for your words, long past bedtime, flashlight in hand? How many nights, clumsily tented in bedsheets, did we find a slice of comfort in a world where the slices were slim?

Books are timeless; everyone says that. And truly, I believe that most of the time. Words don’t die. But selfishly, I want you with that pen still active, so I can pretend that more wisdom is to come.

That active pen would help me tell me daughter that she is beautiful. Every morning, when D. slumps down the stairs, sleep-drunk and disgruntled, I say “Good morning, beautiful,” and give a hug that she barely endures.

I  hope that she’ll get used to being called beautiful, because I never believed it when someone said those words to me.  I didn’t see it and I never felt it. But Miss D., I’ll be wrecked if you don’t believe it.

I wave goodbye as my daughter broods onto the school bus and then, suddenly, I drive to the library. I open the books of you, my adolescent muse. I thumb through pages, fighting tears and grinning and laughing at the same time.

Is there any woman my age who doesn’t want to clutch Judy Blume in a bear hug, hold her close, and thank her for her guidance–her service to millions of confused girls?  Her words were my satellite, guiding me through murky waters.

I read and read and read. And I felt better.


It makes me wonder. Where is our next Judy Blume? Her words still resonate with such truth, but we’ve come a long way, baby. Where’s the Judy Blume of this generation? My kids see things on You Tube and on television that make “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” seem a little…innocent. Not that innocent is bad, but time moves at warp speed now, it seems.

Next Judy, I’m waiting for you. Show up, dammit. *swear jar* I need you more than ever.

* A Letter of Apology to Judy Blume,

Judy–can I call you Judy? I kind of think of you as my second mother, so I hope that type of familiarity is okay? I didn’t mean to think you were dead; I think it’s one of those Urban Myths that floats around, kind of like those crop circle thingys(although news of crop circles doesn’t break female hearts everywhere). And while I know you aren’t “retire” retiring, my soul is so wistful for our loss in the YA genre. So while I  owe you an apology, at least you know how precious you are. Platinum doesn’t hold a candle to you.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Katybeth March 5, 2013 at 5:28 am

Good question, Where is our next Judy Blume? Ever thought of giving it a try? I mean, starting is the hardest part, and you already have the dedication page down….just sayin’

Have a terrific Tuesday.


Katybeth March 5, 2013 at 5:48 am

P.S.–Have you seen this: http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html

It has been around awhile but always worth a watch. Just showed up in my FB newsfeed.


Abby March 5, 2013 at 7:24 am

When I was younger I read “Just As Long As We’re Together” so many times the cover tore off and I had to buy another copy. Sigh…those were the days.


Tiffany March 5, 2013 at 8:27 am

I agree…she was my rock.


jessica March 5, 2013 at 8:46 am

I love Judy Blume – my mother and I were just having a discussion on who to read to an 8 year old Judy or Beverly Clearly. We decided that Bev was probably more appropriate, but that in a few years Judy would have to be introduced!

My older brother has always referred to me The Pain and himself as The Great One.


Cadry March 5, 2013 at 9:02 am

I was more strongly in the Beverly Cleary camp, but Judy Blume did a great job of delivering the uncomfortable truths of puberty. Plus, like you said, it was much easier getting the information from a book under the bedroom covers than a living, breathing human standing in front of our 11-year-old selves.

I didn’t see anything about Judy Blume dying, and it looks like she was doing guest appearances as recently as last month. Did I miss something? Or were you speaking of a metaphorical death in terms of her work?


TKW March 5, 2013 at 10:00 am


I am a Ramona fan through-and-through. Love that girl and always will. My daughter, to this day, calls playground bullies “Yard Apes.”


TKW March 7, 2013 at 10:30 am


I seriously heard a few months ago that she died! I’m so glad I was wrong!


Kim Jorgensen Gane March 5, 2013 at 9:20 am

What a woman, that Judy. Her words are truly timeless. Wouldn’t it be nice if her books were re-released with new, fresh, updated covers for a new generation (to fool them into picking them up)? If we mothers who grew up with her could make her some sort of secret legend that young girls felt they HAD to read? “Ohhhh, I don’t think you’re ready for THIS!” I also love the idea of *someone* like you taking the legend on with your already completed dedication page! Even if we can’t always say them at the perfect moment, I think we mothers, given time to process, can write them quite successfully. Perhaps many could put their heads together in an anthology. BEST of luck!


TKW March 5, 2013 at 10:03 am


ANTHOLOGY! That is a freaking genius idea! *wheels spinning wildly*


Kim Jorgensen Gane March 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Please keep me in mind. I would be delighted to participate! I have an essay being published in the book 51%: Women and the Future of Politics (Sugati, Spring 2013), and write about woman power stuff…stuff young girls have a really hard time with, for reasons I haven’t entirely identified yet. But I’ve been a mom for 26 years, have two grown daughters, as well as an almost 10 y/o son. I think it would be INCREDIBLE to be a part of a project dedicated to the amazingness that was and continues to be through her legacy, Judy Blume.


TKW March 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm


Email me. Let’s do it. Judy deserves it.


Biz March 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

I loved Judy Blume growing up. Are you there God, It’s me Margaret, was one of my favorite books.

However, now that your daughter is growing up – I suggest this book – It’s by American Girl and its called The Care and Keeping of You. It really helped me explain everything to my daughter – who actually got her period at age 10!



TKW March 5, 2013 at 10:04 am


We own that exact book. It’s been read to tatters. :)


Maggie May March 5, 2013 at 10:36 am

Love Judy Blume, love this.


TKW March 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm


Is that really your real name? It’s my favorite Rod Stewart song (and I unabashadly love him).


elizabeth March 5, 2013 at 10:36 am

Thank you for clarifying that–I read your first sentence and my heart almost stopped and I immediately went to Google to see if I had missed anything. (I then went to Google Beverly Cleary, and she’s still around at 96.)

Superfudge was my favorite, favorite book growing up because it was so freaking funny, and it made living in New York as a kid to be SO cool. All of the Fudge books captured the humanity of childhood so well, and only a writer as gifted as Blume could turn Shelia Tubman into a complex character rather than just a Lucy Van Pelt knockoff.

I follow her on Twitter and she was tweeting often about the movie version of Tiger Eyes that was made last year and how pleased she was with it, and now I really, really want to see it. Apparently it will be coming out into theaters soon…


TKW March 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm


I will never forget the Banshee howl that came from Miss D.’s room when she read “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.”

“Aggg!” she hollered, and kicked the door. “He ate Dribble? What the heck!?”


Anonymous July 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Just reading over this post and the comments. Indeed the Tiger Eyes movie was released in the US on June 7 2013 and is widely available on cable VOD, iTunes, Amazon Instant and most digital services (though not Netflix and it will not be on that service for a long time). It is also playing in cinemas in select cities. It is also available via itunes in Canada.

We are working on international distribution and should have some news about Europe, Australia and Asia in the autumn. Check out our website http://www.tigereyesmovie.com or our Facebook page for updates.

I assure you Judy Blume is quite well, she attended many screenings of the film, signing autographs and taking photos. It is true, she is easily reachable on Twitter and enjoys interacting with fans and joining conversations.

Love reading the posts from #JudyBlumeProject!


Jamie March 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

Judy Blume is my Jesus. SO. GOOD.

That one book that was all about the girl losing her virginity? (Forever, I think it was called.) I totally read that one in secret, hunkered down underneath the covers with a flashlight exactly like you described.

You’re right though, we need the next Judy, badly. Times are a-changin.’ Maybe I should write a book warning young girls of the dangers of sexting? I could be rich!


TKW March 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm


Yes, it was “Forever.” Do you remember in that book that he named his…you know…”Ralph?”

In college, my sister had a boyfriend who called his…you know…”Santa.”

I never really got that, because doesn’t Santa only come once a year?

*running to hide in the bushes*


Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac March 6, 2013 at 11:40 am



Shannon March 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Most of my sex education came from Judy Blume and Dr. Ruth Westheimer (radio show). I actually went out and bought a copy of “Are You There God…” after I was all grown up just so that I could have it with me in the same house.


Cecilia March 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hahaha — you just spoke for me too!

“Most of my sex education came from Judy Blume and Dr. Ruth Westheimer (radio show).”


The Curious Cat March 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm

ooo you scared me for a minute…but blimey she must be old now! xxx


TKW March 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm


Making a note to use “blimey” more often. I love that word.


Stacey March 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I remember reading Judy Blume as a poor clueless girl.

. . . And reading more Judy Blume as a poor clueless adult.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Judy Blume. In my heart, always a forever friend.
I feel your angst, Kitch.


Ami March 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I remember reading “Then Again Maybe I Won’t” and learning that guys sometimes just got (using my whisper voice) *erections* in the middle of math class and other random places. It completely blew my mind. Completely.
Also, “Blubber” is such a great cautionary tale: don’t be a bullying ass to someone or else it will come back to bite your butt. What goes around comes around people.


TKW March 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm


“Blubber” tore my heart right in half.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Oh, my Judy Blume books were the best! I think I had/read them all. Yes, even the “bad” one, squished in the back of the fourth grade classroom with some other girls who were far more knowledgeable than I trying to figure out what in the hell the book was actually about. That was back in the days when nine year old actually had to ask what all that sort of stuff meant. *Sighs wistfully* I remember reading those and thinking the topics were…shocking. Love love loved Sheila the Great and oh, just all of them.


TKW March 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm


Ellen Conrad was also a pivotal writer in my life. Did you read her?


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I don’t think so – don’t recognize the name. What titles?


Ami March 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm

I loved “Hail, Hail Camp Timberwood” by Ellen Conrad. It made me want to go to sleep away camp so badly.


TKW March 7, 2013 at 10:33 am


That was my favorite one of hers, too! I read it until it fell apart and then begged my mother for another copy!


jacquie March 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm

i’m so old i’m from the “time before judy blume” so i’m sorry to say i’m not familar with her work. perhaps her books would still hold some meaning for your daughter as some themes hold true for all the ages but just at different paces. as for the next judy blume i can’t also help but wonder if it is not you as scary as that may seem ….

and while it may not seem it i’m betting miss D. is holding that “beautiful” in herself somewhere. do you always say it the same way? i wonder if “tagging” it to something like her smile or her laugh or her courage might not be useful for her also. not that she would acknowledge of course. just a wondering….


TKW March 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm


Miss D. is obsessed with her busting-out breasts and uncontollable hair. But also, she really does feel good in her heart. I’m gonna take it.


Papa Guy March 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm

You want to know where the next JB is? a JB for this new “light speed” GenSet. It’s you…dearie…


TKW March 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

Papa Guy,

That comment just made my life. Alas, I do not think I am hip enough to even know what teens are doing nowadays. *hides head in sand like ostrich*


faemom March 5, 2013 at 11:30 pm

I never read Judy Blume. I know. But I didn’t discover books until middle school, and I was desperate to find another reality that just didn’t suck as bad as being that loner-girl stuck in Catholic middle school of hell.
I think I should go and read her.
Because of you.
And you know what. You’re an exellent mom. You’re doing good.


TKW March 6, 2013 at 11:58 am


Go get Judy! You might want to begin with “It’s Not the End of the World.” Just sayin.


SuziCate March 6, 2013 at 5:36 am

I read Judy Blume, too! And then I had boys…perhaps I should have read the Hardy Boys!


TKW March 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm


I read the Hardy Boys! And Encyclopedia Brown, and (my fave) The Three Investigators. Gee, can you tell that I was a nerd with no friends?


Barbara March 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

In that I am no doubt old enough to be YOUR grandmother, you will understand I have not read Judy. Know of her, yes. So count me out, but it’s still fun to keep up…..helps me stay young, :)


TKW March 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm


It is never to late to discover Judy. :)


pamela March 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

JUDY!!! Gasp. Oh I just adore her and her books. I feel like I grew up with Sally J. Freedman and Sheila the Great and Deenie … so painful and so true and wildly comforting. I can’t believe she is retiring either. I still have the form letter she sent back after I wrote to her.


TKW March 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm

You please should contribute and share that experience. And not just because you write like a comet–I want to hear this story!


Cyn March 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm

YOU are the Judy Blume of this generation, of course. Seriously.


Dawn March 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm

So I read this and I think…”WHAT? Judy Blume died??” Why wasn’t that on the news? What the heck? And I google her and it doesn’t seem like she died…and I am relieved. You scared me. Good idea though to do the book thing while she’s living so she can appreciate it…


Lisa March 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Back in the northern villages of the UK in the 80’s we didn’t have much access to Judy Blume, until ‘Forever’ was purchased by one of the older girls. Because of the content, the local libraries would not loan it out to anyone under 14 (meaning anyone with a kids library card) and even the book shops had an age limit for buying it.

I was 11 but looked like I could be 16. Three weeks running on saturday, I got my mom to take me into the closest town where I purchased copies for my friends, then the book shop figured it out and wouldn’t sell me any more. Those three copies went around every girl in my school aged from 11 to 13. It was a helluva eye opener for most of them, but a damn sight more useful than the single sex ed class they finally gave us at age 12, with the hopeless drawings and the enormous feminine hygiene items (no dry weave top-sheet with wings there!)


TKW March 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm


You have GOT to write about this! It’s hilarious and moving at the same time. Please consider contributing to #JudyBlumeProject?


Cecilia March 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Wow, you’ve said it all in that letter – everything I feel and everything I didn’t even know I was feeling until I read it.


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