Judy Blume at the Toronto Reference Library

Sunday 5 July 2015

Book signings are a strange but wonderful experience. For me, an anxious introvert, they mean standing in line playing conversations over and over again in my head: What will I say? What should I say? What will he/she say in response?

In the case of meeting Judy Blume last week at the Toronto Reference Library, my internal dialogue was even weightier than usual:
  • How do I sum up in approximately eight to ten seconds the influence Judy Blume has had on me as a reader? As an editor? As a woman?
  • How do I tell Judy Blume that I've reread her books countless times in hopes of re-capturing the exhilaration I felt when I first read them as a child? 
  • How do I talk to Judy Blume without being the one-hundredth person at the Toronto Reference Library to tell her that meeting her is the thrill of a lifetime. 
Ultimately, I didn't tell Judy Blume any of these things. I didn't gush. I didn't get bleary eyed like I had earlier when she was interviewed by Rachel Giese about her new book, In The Unlikely Event. I played it cool — Well, as cool as my anxious introvert personality would allow me to be. 

Judy Blume (I can't bring myself to call her Judy, and Ms. Blume seems too formal for someone who has been a friend, if only in my head, for close to thirty years) was everything I imagined her to be. Kind, sweet, funny, and willing to talk about any topic hurled at her. Meeting Judy Blume, and hearing her read from In The Unlikely Event, was a thrill of a lifetime.

"They (the publishing house) decided to publish [In The Unlikely Event] very quickly while I could still walk and talk." - Judy Blume joking about her age. She turned 77 this year.

"I don't consider myself a YA writer." ... "There was no YA even when I wrote Forever." ... "I don't like labels." 

"'Be a good girl, Judy.' That's what I heard from my mother. And I was. Not in my head, but I was."

"We wanted permission to have sex, so we got married." - Judy Blume on her generation's tendency to marry young. 

"Yes, every girl should have a sex life, but it doesn't have to be with a partner!"

"A librarian or teacher can put the right book in the hand of the right child and change a life."

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