Before I get started with this review, I have a confession to make. Until last week I had never read a book by Judy Blume. No Fudge, or Freckle Juice, or Ramona and Beezus, nothing. I’m not sure why, only that I’ve never felt compelled to read any of these books. However, I was handed a copy of this book and decided to give it a chance.
In the Unlikely Event is inspired by the true story of three plane crashes in Elizabeth, New Jersey within the span of two months during the winter of 1952. It’s told through the eyes of multiple characters, some whose lives intersect more than others, some who died in the crashes and some who were on the edges of the events and just saw the repercussions in the community. It’s also the story of 14-year-old Mira Ammerman and how the events of this winter changed her and affected the rest of her life.
This book had an interesting format. As I mentioned above, the book is told from multiple points of view, but not in the way I’m used to reading. Instead of a new character each chapter, each chapter is split among multiple points of view. This caused a little confusion at first, until I started recognizing each of the characters and how they related to each other. I really liked Mira – she’s a mature and intelligent girl who seemed fairly confident in who she was and her ability to make her own decisions. Despite the multiple points of view, this felt like it was primarily Mira’s story – a sort of coming-of-age tale of that winter and the impact it had on her life, and the lives of those around her.
Blume has a straight-forward, almost journalistic style in this book that I appreciated and it made for a quick read. However, even though I was interested in the story and read through it quickly I can’t say that I loved the book. Of all the characters in this book and all the different points of view, Mira was the only one I felt I could even remotely relate to. The rest of the characters felt a little detached to me. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book – like I said, it was an interesting read. I liked it, I just didn’t love it. I also feel this would be more appropriate on a fall or winter reading list, as I want something a little brighter and lighter to read in the summer (but that’s just personal preference).
I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone about to take their first cross-country flight, or anyone who already has a difficult time with flying – it won’t make you feel any better. But if you’re a fan of novels inspired by real events, family/community dramas and/or multi-perspective narratives then you may enjoy this book.