In the Unlikely Event

by Judy Blume

Book, 2015

Barcode

123460386

Call number

FIC BLU

Collection

Publication

New York, NY Alfred A. Knopf, 2015

Description

In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life -- when a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving her community reeling.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

Excellent character development
Wonderful depiction of the 50's in all of its glory and horror
Every character felt so very real and so very human, Blume has always excelled at this
Interesting to see all of the different types of families depicted
You can see how much the story
Show More
based on real life events has haunted the author. I hope this has helped her come to grips with the loss
Some absolutely brilliant wise words about life, family, love, loss and growing up

The Not So Good Stuff

Really not a good idea to read this just before you are about to get on a plane (FYI, started 2 days before I was leaving to visit Toronto, I picked my seats at the back of the plane, because of this book)
Way too many characters, hard to keep track of everyone's storyline
Really wanted to love it, as I have enjoyed the authors other works, but it just felt rushed and all over the place. I blame myself for having high expectations as well

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Life is a series of unlikely events, isn’t it? Hers certainly is. One unlikely event after another, adding up to a rich, complicated whole. And who knows what’s still to come?

"What was it with boys in her class? Was it that they liked the idea of spaceships and zombies? Was it too scary to think about what really made the planes crash ?"



"Miri, sweetheart-life is hard," Henry said. "but its worth the struggle."

3 Deweys

I received this from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review
Show Less
LibraryThing member tututhefirst
I always associate Judy Blume with YA books, and didn't realize this was geared to a much wider audience. Based on true facts and events, the story of a series of plane disasters in New Jersey during the years after World War II, is so attention grabbing, so well told, that the reader does not want
Show More
to put this one down. I was up very late two nights in a row finishing this one. The characters are instantly accepted and believable, and the riveting story takes the reader on a true roller coaster of emotions. It definitely is a book that would make a great Christmas gift for readers from 13 to 100. For those of us who grew up in the post-war era of the 50's it's a true tr
Show Less
LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
In the Unlikely Event is based on a series of tragedies that occurred in Elizabeth, NJ, over a short period of time from year end 1951 until a couple of months into 1952. These events led to a redesign of the flight paths of planes flying over residential areas. The story is based on a time period
Show More
well remembered by the author since she lived in Elizabeth at the time. Although she calls this an adult novel, it is populated largely by teenagers and seemed more appropriate to me, for that age group rather than adults.
“Fifteen-year-old Miri (Miriam) Ammerman, narrates the story. She lives with her unmarried mother, Rusty (Naomi), her grandmother, Irene, and her Uncle Henry, a newspaper reporter. Like most 1950s American teens, Miri’s biggest worries are friends, homework and boys, until a Miami Airlines plane plunges into the Elizabeth River in December of 1951. Blume brings not just Miri and her family to life, but many of the passengers on those doomed flights. Although the tragic incidents are real, the characters are not. The title is based on the words of the flight attendant at the start of a flight. The book is based on how people react if and when that unlikely event occurs.
In an attempt to bring the time period of the early fifties to life, and what I believe was an attempt to honor the victims and witnesses of the multiple plane crashes, Blume has written a story that shows how they were all were ultimately effected by those events. It shows how they suffered not only from the loss of friends and family at the time, but how the fear engendered by the events, along with the grief and memories, lasted far into the future bringing along unintended consequences. There were many victims, not only those on the plane or their friends and families. There were those hidden in the shadows, those who merely witnessed the events, those whom the plane narrowly missed and those who participated in the rescues or in identifying the victims. They suffered long lasting effects from those terrible memories. In the present and in the future, the paths of their lives were altered.
As Blume takes us on a journey through those tumultuous months, she also introduces the famous historic events of the times and the story is quite nostalgic for those of us with memories of that era. She gives voice to the politics and morality of that time which are viewed very differently today. I, as a reader, could not help wondering if the tumultuous fifties, which began a trend of loosening morality, did not usher in much of the travails that the world faces today. In the fifties, it was a much simpler time, with clearer rules to follow, as opposed to today when rules are loose and anything and everything seems to be an appropriate behavior. Those t houghts aside, I do remember Hoover vacuums, although my mom had a Kirby. I remember Ronson lighters. I had one. I remember Esterbrook pens because I had one of those too. Deviled eggs and chicken ala king were the fare of middle-income homes. Dixie cup ice creams were a treat. Nylon slips were the fashion and Noxema skin cream, with its distinctive scent, was good for all your skin’s needs, including sunburn! There were no designer cosmetics like there are today. Children’s feet were fluoroscoped, kids necked in cars, and there were homes for orphans and unwed mothers. Women went to college to earn an MRS. and married to have sex. Working outside the home was frowned upon and only women who had to work went to business, as it was called then. My father was terrified of Joe McCarthy and my cousin came home from the Korean War with his hair turned white. Women who were unable to bear children were frowned upon as if it was their fault and divorce was considered shameful. There was no such thing as a legal abortion and many women died in the back rooms of unqualified doctors.
Having experienced that time period in my own life, although I am somewhat younger, and having suffered my own traumatic plane experience as a teenager, an event which prevented me from flying for two decades and wiped out my dream of becoming a stewardess (I wore glasses so I couldn’t anyway, you were required to have perfect vision), I have to admit this book was a hard read for me. Still, the book made me wonder if we were better off then, than we are today, with our different fears, not of the duck and cover type, not of the gangsters like Bugsy Siegel, not of student sit-ins which shut down schools, although that still occurs today and still today serves to dumb down education, rather than improve it, not of aliens or nuclear war, but of the constant threat of terrorism at any time and any place. Today, with the lack of a stay at home parent, we have more crime and more gangs on the street. Today we study sociological subjects more often than the three “R’s” which would serve our students better when they searched for employment.
It was a dark and gloomy book, at times, with far too many characters that often taxed the reader’s memory, with the mention of far too many societal ills (I would be hard put to think of one that was left out), and it ended in a somewhat fairytale way, since most of the characters featured, that suffered the trauma, eventually wound up with very satisfying and accomplished lives, even if it wasn’t the life they originally planned for themselves. Secrets and choices seriously affected the outcomes of many of the character’s lives, in unexpected ways, but in the end, everyone seemed to live happily ever after, and that surprised me. I was also surprised that some very poor behavior was totally acceptable, and everyone seemed to find their own prince or princess in the end. In a nice touch, the book ends with the names and ages of the victims being read off at a ceremony honoring them. Also all of the relationships introduced found ways to work themselves out. Parents forgave children, friends forgave friends and children forgave parents. Would real life have turned out that way?
While the reader read the story in a comfortable, resonant voice, accenting important moments with appropriate stress, her portrayal of Miri seemed to be the same when she was 15 as when she was 50. She still sounded innocent and immature and was speaking in a childlike manner. Miri was simply too perfect and level-headed a character to be realistic to me, since even as a teen, when she should have felt some need to rebel, she was well behaved and obedient. If she was fashioned after Judy Blume as a teenager, than Judy’s family was lucky to have such a “perfect” child. Because the book raises so many issues that society has to confront, I think it would be a good book for discussion groups. I also think it is more of a crossover, YA to adult, rather than an adult book.
In the end, I thought a philosophical message seemed to be imparted by one of the rather young characters. She says that “not all unlikely events are bad!” I also wondered if the ultimate message was that while “not all unlikely events are bad”, they also mark a period of new beginnings, even as they mark an untimely end to some that were planned. The book deals with how all different victims deal with their grief and recovery. It showed the long and short term effects of the tragedy on its victims.
Show Less
LibraryThing member shelleyraec
As a young girl, I devoured everything written by Judy Blume, from Superfudge to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Forever as well as her adult novels Smart Women, Wifey, despite the fact I wasn’t yet even a teenager. I remember being excited when her third adult novel, Summer Sisters,
Show More
was published in 1998 and seventeen years later we finally have a fourth and, Judy Blume herself confesses, her last, In the Unlikely Event.

While the tone and style of Blume’s writing remains remarkably familiar, the subject of this novel is quite different from what some may expect. Inspired by a series of passenger airplanes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey within a three-month period in 1951–1952, the author brings to life three generations of families, friends, and strangers, who are all profoundly affected by these events, either directly or indirectly.

While Blume employs multiple points of view in the narrative it is teenager Miri Ammerman who has the strongest voice. Against the background of such frightening community tragedy, Miri struggles with the typical trials of adolescence, such as identity, friendship, family and first love. Meanwhile her Uncle Henry makes his name as the journalist who covers the incidents, her best friend, Natalie, is haunted by a plane crash victim, and an elderly man mourning his wife beds down on her grandmother’s couch. The large cast may be off-putting to some readers but I felt the the varied perspectives enriched the narrative.

Blume successfully brings to life the facts surrounding the New Jersey plane crashes, honouring the real life victims of the tragedies. She authentically evokes the era that heralded social change in America, exploring issues such as changing morality and political unrest.

Written with genuine compassion and insight, and with finely drawn characterisation, In the Unlikely Event is an engaging story of life’s ordinary and extraordinary events.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rkreish
Some authors have earned such a tremendous amount of goodwill from me, I'm willing to try their new books even after a long gap. (But I'm not sure that I'm ready to read Go Set A Watchman.) I'm fairly certain I've read almost every Judy Blume novel since I was 9 or 10, and while I don't remember
Show More
her adult novels so clearly, her books for kids are super-memorable.

In the Unlikely Event is a story sort of based on Judy Blume's life: she grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the flight-path of Newark International Airport, in the 1950's during the time of a major plane crash. I don't think it's a spoiler to say as much because the cover is pretty on-the-nose.

Blume's stand-in is Miri, a teenager living with her single mother and her grandmother in the apartment downstairs. There's a large cast of characters surrounding Miri: her friends, her family, and several other people in Elizabeth, so there are stories about the plane crash from many perspectives. It's a coming-of-age story with the background of dealing with a horrible plane crash in her neighborhood, and Blume's strength is in creating realistic characters. Some aren't totally fleshed out because her focus is on a teenage girl who doesn't know everything about older people's lives, but that's not a problem with the story.

I really liked this book: I could tell that it was a story that wasn't just dashed off, and it didn't tell stories about a tragedy just for the sake of drama.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kremsa
Just an okay book for me. I had high expectations from this author and I was a bit disappointed. In the beginning there were a lot of characters introduced and it was hard to keep track of all of them and made things a bit confusing. The storyline was interesting but I also felt that this book
Show More
wasn't always being written for adults.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Dianekeenoy
I didn't know about the three plane crashes that happened during a 8 week period during the winter of 1951-1952. While the story was fiction, it was based on the true fact of these plane crashes. While I'm glad I read this book, I found it sometimes felt like it was written for a younger audience.
LibraryThing member billyburgess
By just looking at the book jacket, I was expecting this to be like Tiger Eyes, but I was completely wrong as the novel is an adult fiction set around real events that just happens to involve teenage characters. While I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed at first with the plot, the more
Show More
I read it, the more I liked it; though there were way too many side characters to keep up with and I didn't like the constant shift in point-of-views. Overall, In the Unlikely Event is an intriguing novel that I ended up liking. The book isn’t' for everyone, but it's a good read!
Show Less
LibraryThing member alanna1122
The last book I read by Judy Blume was The Pain and the Great One - which was a wonderfully funny children's book that my family listened to on the way to a vacation. It has been years and years since I have read any of her older skewing novels. But like most people my age - she wrote many of the
Show More
books that were most important to me in my youth.

I was excited to read "In the Unlikely Event" because I really felt assured that I would enjoy it.

It was well written and the plot moves right along. There are a lot more characters than I was expecting and I'll admit I had a little bit of a hard time keeping every one straight at first (especially all the young boys). I found the subject a little tough though.

**Spoiler Alert?**** this is all on the back jacket of the book so its not really spoily.

Like any anxious flyer - I found reading about historic crashes pretty difficult. Blume paints a pretty vivid picture of the tragedies. I made it though, and I even flew once while I was reading this! (maybe not the best choice - but I was in the middle of it, so...)

I enjoyed it, I found it absorbing. The characters were interesting and the story was fresh. I would definitely recommend it. But maybe a better choice for sitting around the pool than for a long plane ride.
Show Less
LibraryThing member c.archer
I loved this book. It caught my interest immediately. The only criticism that I really have is that I had a tough time keeping all the characters and their relationships straight. That's not all together a bad thing. The writing is good with the action moving quickly and little excess wordiness to
Show More
stall the story. I love the time period-the'50s and the way that it twists and weaves the character's relationships. The story line is incredible and completely "unlikely". I didn't know until finishing the book that these plane crashes were actual events that took place in Elizabeth, NJ. The fact that Judy Blume was a teen and lived in Elizabeth during these accidents puts a new spin on the story the helps me appreciate it even more.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
I have always loved Judy Blume and this book did not disappoint. The fact that it's based on three real airplane crashes in her hometown in a short time frame when she was a young teen added a layer of depth to the story as I imagined the lives affected by such tragedies, along with the fear and
Show More
worry. Judy obviously did meticulous research so that, while the characters she creates are fictional, the story rings true with honesty and sincere emotion. Without giving anything away, some of the loose ends (e.g., Miri's birth father) are wrapped up a bit "too" neatly, I thought, but that was the only minor flaw I found (personally), and it did not take away from my enjoyment. Well done again, Ms. Blume!
Show Less
LibraryThing member Dianekeenoy
I didn't know about the three plane crashes that happened during a 8 week period during the winter of 1951-1952. While the story was fiction, it was based on the true fact of these plane crashes. While I'm glad I read this book, I found it sometimes felt like it was written for a younger audience.
LibraryThing member rkreish
Some authors have earned such a tremendous amount of goodwill from me, I'm willing to try their new books even after a long gap. (But I'm not sure that I'm ready to read Go Set A Watchman.) I'm fairly certain I've read almost every Judy Blume novel since I was 9 or 10, and while I don't remember
Show More
her adult novels so clearly, her books for kids are super-memorable.

In the Unlikely Event is a story sort of based on Judy Blume's life: she grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the flight-path of Newark International Airport, in the 1950's during the time of a major plane crash. I don't think it's a spoiler to say as much because the cover is pretty on-the-nose.

Blume's stand-in is Miri, a teenager living with her single mother and her grandmother in the apartment downstairs. There's a large cast of characters surrounding Miri: her friends, her family, and several other people in Elizabeth, so there are stories about the plane crash from many perspectives. It's a coming-of-age story with the background of dealing with a horrible plane crash in her neighborhood, and Blume's strength is in creating realistic characters. Some aren't totally fleshed out because her focus is on a teenage girl who doesn't know everything about older people's lives, but that's not a problem with the story.

I really liked this book: I could tell that it was a story that wasn't just dashed off, and it didn't tell stories about a tragedy just for the sake of drama.
Show Less
LibraryThing member billyburgess
By just looking at the book jacket, I was expecting this to be like Tiger Eyes, but I was completely wrong as the novel is an adult fiction set around real events that just happens to involve teenage characters. While I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed at first with the plot, the more
Show More
I read it, the more I liked it; though there were way too many side characters to keep up with and I didn't like the constant shift in point-of-views. Overall, In the Unlikely Event is an intriguing novel that I ended up liking. The book isn’t' for everyone, but it's a good read!
Show Less
LibraryThing member alanna1122
The last book I read by Judy Blume was The Pain and the Great One - which was a wonderfully funny children's book that my family listened to on the way to a vacation. It has been years and years since I have read any of her older skewing novels. But like most people my age - she wrote many of the
Show More
books that were most important to me in my youth.

I was excited to read "In the Unlikely Event" because I really felt assured that I would enjoy it.

It was well written and the plot moves right along. There are a lot more characters than I was expecting and I'll admit I had a little bit of a hard time keeping every one straight at first (especially all the young boys). I found the subject a little tough though.

**Spoiler Alert?**** this is all on the back jacket of the book so its not really spoily.

Like any anxious flyer - I found reading about historic crashes pretty difficult. Blume paints a pretty vivid picture of the tragedies. I made it though, and I even flew once while I was reading this! (maybe not the best choice - but I was in the middle of it, so...)

I enjoyed it, I found it absorbing. The characters were interesting and the story was fresh. I would definitely recommend it. But maybe a better choice for sitting around the pool than for a long plane ride.
Show Less
LibraryThing member gogglemiss
This was an OK read, but I found the viewpoints of many characters with their various chapters too much to remember but the key character was Miri and she seemed to stabilise the story, throughout.
LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

Excellent character development
Wonderful depiction of the 50's in all of its glory and horror
Every character felt so very real and so very human, Blume has always excelled at this
Interesting to see all of the different types of families depicted
You can see how much the story
Show More
based on real life events has haunted the author. I hope this has helped her come to grips with the loss
Some absolutely brilliant wise words about life, family, love, loss and growing up

The Not So Good Stuff

Really not a good idea to read this just before you are about to get on a plane (FYI, started 2 days before I was leaving to visit Toronto, I picked my seats at the back of the plane, because of this book)
Way too many characters, hard to keep track of everyone's storyline
Really wanted to love it, as I have enjoyed the authors other works, but it just felt rushed and all over the place. I blame myself for having high expectations as well

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Life is a series of unlikely events, isn’t it? Hers certainly is. One unlikely event after another, adding up to a rich, complicated whole. And who knows what’s still to come?

"What was it with boys in her class? Was it that they liked the idea of spaceships and zombies? Was it too scary to think about what really made the planes crash ?"



"Miri, sweetheart-life is hard," Henry said. "but its worth the struggle."

3 Deweys

I received this from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review
Show Less
LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
I have always loved Judy Blume and this book did not disappoint. The fact that it's based on three real airplane crashes in her hometown in a short time frame when she was a young teen added a layer of depth to the story as I imagined the lives affected by such tragedies, along with the fear and
Show More
worry. Judy obviously did meticulous research so that, while the characters she creates are fictional, the story rings true with honesty and sincere emotion. Without giving anything away, some of the loose ends (e.g., Miri's birth father) are wrapped up a bit "too" neatly, I thought, but that was the only minor flaw I found (personally), and it did not take away from my enjoyment. Well done again, Ms. Blume!
Show Less
LibraryThing member Momm2five
I kept expecting this book to get better. By the end, I was left wondering why I even bothered. So many characters to keep track of, and a few that left me wondering why they were even brought up. There was no real point to the book.
LibraryThing member lettylibrarian
Not a bad read. Enjoyable. The first 50 pages was a lot of character introduction. Keeping notes kept me on track. Sometimes I would forget a character but Judy Blume is great at gently reminding you what's important about that character. There are a lot of characters in this book. The main
Show More
character is Miri, who is 15 and lives in New Jersey very close to Newark Airport and it is 1952. Airtravel then is nothing like it is now. It is fun to read how different they way people traveled back then and how they regarded flying with a glamorous lifestyle. But the book is really about how tragic events effect all of us even the people who are not directly affected like those who perish or are injured. The events here touch the lives of the characters. I wanted to know how everyone turned out. I was invested in their lives. Judy Blume is an excellent writer. Even the love scenes are written in a way that is not explicit but at the same time passionate. I get how the characters feel about their relationships. Very relatable book. I would recommend to anyone who loves a good coming of age book but please do not read this on a plane.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cjordan916
In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this
Show More
backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JCGirl
For many February 10, 1987 was just an average Tuesday, only the second day into a long work week, but for Miri Ammerman she was facing the 35th anniversary of a day she would soon like to forget forever. In Judy Blume's book, In the Unlikely Event, she takes us back to 1950's at a time when
Show More
everyone felt like a movie star in the high sky. The futures looked so bright and clear at 36,000 feet above the earth, the future of aviation was just making its grand entrance into commercial traveling. What could go wrong other than a few spilt drinks, but through the true events of 3 plane crashes at Elizabeth, New Jersey, Newark Airport, Blume brings the life of fictional characters from the planes and ground. Who will survive? How will the survivors move forward after the tragedy? What changes will be made for future passengers air safety? Blume weaves through the pages a cast of unforgettable fictional characters from the 1950's with all its glory and the innocents of the age.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dele2451
An interesting piece of historical fiction set in relatively recent times. Not Judy Blume's usual type of literary fare, but a solid reading choice as long as you're not planning to read it on an airplane.
LibraryThing member jwood652
3 planes crashing within 58 days...a bit hard to believe...yet that is the real life backdrop to this fictional story. Judy Blume writes a compelling story, peopled with characters who experienced the disasters that struck Elizabeth NJ in the early 50's. Lending further credibility to the story,
Show More
Judy Blume was an eighth-grader at the time, in Elizabeth and has personal memories of the disasters.
Show Less
LibraryThing member countrylife
Historical fiction about the multiple plane crashes in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950s. The plane crashes are the backdrop for this coming of age story. I generally like historical fiction, but this one didn’t resonate with me. I’m not sure why. It felt like the treatment of the
Show More
characters was rather shallow. The two stories – the teenagers coming of age during that time and the stories of the crashes – seemed to fight against each other in the book.
Show Less

Original publication date

2015-06-02

ISBN

1101875056
Page: 0.1602 seconds