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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself - Judy Blume

Part of my Judy Blume re-reading marathon, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is another book that holds up well to decades-later re-reads.  I'll admit Sally isn't my favourite Blume character: she's a romantic and a hyper-imaginative child growing up in an era absolutely drowning in fodder for her "stories".  But everything that surrounds her is interesting to me and I still identified with a child that was trying to figure out the world around her on her own, relying on context instead of the uncooperative adults she's surrounded by.

 

Judy Blume said herself that this book had more autobiographical elements to it than any of her other books.  It's time frame of 1947-1948 is certainly the earliest of any of her children's books.  Sally's father is a dentist, her mother a housewife.  They live in a big house in suburban New Jersey until Sally's brother suffers a prolonged illness, nudging the family into renting an apartment in Miami Beach, FL for the winter so that he can recuperate in a warm climate.

 

This setup is a perfect vehicle for many themes as Sally is taken out of her very sheltered, homogenised environment for the first time: Her father stays in NJ to continue working, only visiting on holidays and she makes friends with a girl at school whose father was killed in the war, so parental separation/death is touched on, though lightly.  

 

Sally befriends a black family on the train, only to find them gone when she wakes up; moved to a "black only" car as the train moves into the South.  She and a friend are rather violently yanked away from a water fountain at the dime store and scolded by a stranger for drinking from the "black" water fountain.  Sally questions these actions as much as a 10 year old realistically would; it's clear that Ms. Blume feels the inherent wrongness of racial distinctions.  She keeps true to time, place, and age but it's frustrating to see the answers given to her by her parents.  

 

Overall, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is an intriguing time-capsule of an era we've long left behind but still affects us, told from the point of view of a 10 year old girl.  It's probably not my favourite of Blume's books, but it's definitely one I'll keep on the shelves and re-visit once in awhile.