When you hear Judy Blume’s name you probably think of children’s novels.
One of the first Judy Blume books I read to my kids was “Freckle Juice.” From there we progressed to “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and others. My kids loved the silliness of theses stories, which most always give way to what can be considered a learning moment of the character as well as the reader!
Blume’s newest novel, “In the Unlikely Event,” is her first novel for adults in 16 years. The story is set in Elizabeth, New Jersey during the winter between 1951 and 1952 when three planes crash within 58 days of each other. The story deals with how her 15-year-old protagonist Miri, her family, friends and the community deal with technology failure, tragedy, social change and fear and learn to find the good in all that has gone wrong. If you find yourself looking for something else to read while you wait for your hold, try one of these titles that are also family sagas set during the 1950s.
“Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson
It’s 1956, and Reverend John Ames is 77 years old and in failing health, which compels him to write a letter (that he has been putting off) chronicling three generations to his young son. Ames tells his son about his heritage. He describes his prophet-like grandfather who had a vision that sent him to Kansas to be useful to the cause of abolition, the conflict between his fiery grandfather and pacifist father, the birth and death of Ames’ first wife and child and the legacy of slavery that dates back to the Civil War.
“Cutting for Stone” by A. Verghese
In Ethiopia in 1954, twin brothers slightly joined at the head are born to a British surgeon and an Indian nun who dies shortly after their birth. Their horrified father runs off, leaving them to be raised by the surgeons who separated them. The boys, Marion and Shiva Stone, are raised on the grounds of the mission hospital where both are drawn towards the medical field. As they come of age, they are driven apart by a country in upheaval and the love they have for the same woman.
“The Garden of Evening Mists” by Twan Eng Tan
Seeking solace in her remaining years, retired, ill Chinese-Malaysian judge Teoh Yun Ling leaves Kuala Lampur for the highlands of Malaysia to discover Yugiri, which means the garden of evening mists. While there she reflects on the life she and her sister lived while interred in a Japanese slave labor camp during World War II and decides to build a commemorative garden for her sister with the help of Aritomo, the former gardener for the Emperor of Japan who reluctantly takes her on as an apprentice.