(1938 - )
By Seymour "Sy" Brody
After the rejections notices stopped coming to Judy Blume, she became one of the most popular writers of young adult novels. Her ability to understand and relate to the problems and human foibles of kids brought her this success.
Blume was the daughter of Esther and Rudolph Sussman, a dentist, who was born in Elizabeth, N.J., on February 12, 1938. After graduating high school, she entered New York University. Her two goals in attending college were to obtain a degree and to find a husband. She met John Blume, a young ambitious lawyer, and married him in her junior year. After graduating NYU, she had a daughter, Randy, and a son, Larry. Her marriage ended in divorce in 1975.
While she was comfortable being a suburban housewife and mother, Blume felt that something was lacking in her life. After a few attempts at other activities, she began writing stories and books for children.
After a few rejections and some writing courses at N.Y.U., she started selling her short stories to magazines while working on her novels. In 1969, she sold The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo to Riley and Lee, which was the beginning of a successful and long writing career.
Blume's early novels were written for younger children. As she matured, she expanded her audience to include adolescents and adults. She wrote two adult novels and others for the adolescents.
Her ability to discuss openly and realistically, with sincere feelings, about many sensitive subjects facing and effecting adolescents, attributed to her popularity. For example, in Iggie's House, racial prejudice was the main issue; first love was the topic in Forever...; menstruation was the subject in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; divorce and family breakups was in It's Not the End of the World; masturbation was involved in Deenie; and social ostracism was in Blubber.
Blume displayed sensitivity, humor and insight in capturing the joys, fears, uncertainty and anguish of these adolescents which enabled her to establish this affinity with them through the use of the first-person in her writings. This technique established a closeness and identification between her characters and her audience.
Blume felt very strongly about the lack of communication between children and their parents. She did something about this lack of communication with the establishment of the KIDS Fund in 1981. She financed it with the royalties from Judy Blume Diary: The Place to Put Your Own Feeling. The fund has been contributing about $40,000 a year to various non-profit organizations who help young people communicate with their parents.
Judy Blume has received many prestigious awards and honors for her stories and novels; including Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret as the best book for children in 1970 by The New York Times. Judy Blume has been able to communicate with her readers through her writings. Her ability to discuss and deal with the sensitive issues facing young people has earned her the readership of millions. Her work has shown young people that reading can be meaningful and fun. Judy Blume is today considered to be the foremost writer of children's novels; a position that she has worked hard to achieve.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
Source: Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America.