The Genius of Judy: How Judy Blume Rewrote Child­hood for All of Us

  • From the Publisher
July 1, 2023

Every­one knows Judy Blume.

Her books have gar­nered her fans of all ages for decades and sold tens of mil­lions of copies. But why were peo­ple so drawn to them? And why are we still talk­ing about them now in the 21st cen­tu­ry?

In The Genius of Judy, her remark­able sto­ry is revealed as nev­er before, begin­ning with her as a moth­er of two search­ing for pur­pose out­side of her home in 1960s sub­ur­ban New Jer­sey. The books she wrote starred reg­u­lar chil­dren with gen­uine thoughts and prob­lems. But behind those decep­tive­ly sim­ple tales, Blume explored the pil­lars of the grow­ing women’s rights move­ment, in which girls and women were enti­tled to careers, bod­i­ly auton­o­my, ful­fill­ing rela­tion­ships, and even sex­u­al plea­sure. Blume wasn’t try­ing to be a rev­o­lu­tion­ary — she just want­ed to tell hon­est sto­ries — but in doing so, she cre­at­ed a cohe­sive, cul­ture-alter­ing vision of mod­ern ado­les­cence.

Blume’s brav­ery pro­voked back­lash, mak­ing her the country’s most-banned author in the mid-1980s. Thank­ful­ly, her works with­stood those cul­ture wars and it’s no coin­ci­dence that Blume has resur­faced as a cul­tur­al touch­stone now. Young girls are still cat-called, sex edu­ca­tion cur­ric­u­la are get­ting dis­missed as pornog­ra­phy, and entire shelves of libraries are being banned. As we face these chal­lenges, it’s only nat­ur­al we look to Blume, the grand dame of so-called dirty books. This is the sto­ry of how a house­wife became a ground­break­ing artist, and how gen­er­a­tions of empow­ered fans are her lega­cy, today more than ever.

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