Even though author Judy Blume has been maddeningly difficult to interview for The American Virgin, I still love her books, especially virginity-loss classic Forever. And although she keeps weasling out of interview requests, she did autograph my copy of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret for me. I didn't tell her that it, along with Letters to Penthouse Forum, constituted much of my early sex ed studies.
A couple of years later, I began reading Blume's more controversial works, addictively squeamish stuff like the devastatingly titled Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. If Picasso had his Blue Period, then Judy Blume had her Period Period. Man, did I learn a lot about menstruation from these books. Margaret was the one that got passed around feverishly in school. Not only did it teach us a (futile) breast enhancement exercise, it introduced us to ''Two Minutes in the Closet,'' a game we played at many parties thereafter. But underneath all that hormonally charged madness lurked an affecting story about Margaret choosing between her mother's Christianity and her father's Judaism. I lived in a town where ''interfaith marriage'' meant a Polish Catholic marrying an Irish Catholic — Blume had widened my horizons yet again...
You have to wonder why no one's made a big-screen adaptation of Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself — a bracingly vivid story of a Jewish girl in postwar Florida — or Forever, an oft-banned tale of love and (virginity) loss. I imagine it's because these stories belong to young women. Real young women, not singing Disney cheerleaders, hair-flipping pop stars, or cartoonish socialites. ''Judy's girls'' are imperfect and unsure; they tend to vacillate maddeningly between outspokenness and passivity. Even physically beautiful characters (like the protagonist in Deenie) are outcasts somehow, stymied by the expectations of others. It's definitely not the stuff of Hollywood.
Thanks Melissa at Women & Hollywood for the heads-up!