I read “In The Unlikely Event” the latest novel from Judy Blume. She was my fave. author when I was a kid and I read all of her books as well as a couple of her adult books. This is her 29th novel . It is loosely based on true events, of 3 airplane crashes that happened when she was growing up in New Jersey in the 1950’s that she has turned into a story with fictional characters.
Miri is a 15 YR old girl in the early 1950’s living in Elizabeth, NJ with her mother Rusty, her grandmother Irene and her uncle Henry.Within a short time span 3 airplanes crash in her neighbourhood and affect her, her family, her friends, her schoolmates, her neighbourhood,and her community, who petition and later succeed, in having the airport shut down. The novel introduces us to various characters, incl. some who die in the various crashes and those who have lost loved ones, incl. Ruby a young dancer, Mrs. Barnes and her son Tim, Ben and Estelle Sapphire, Steve and Kathy…so many families and lives forever affected. Miri had nightmares from what she had seen at the crash sites and one of her friends moved away and another lost her mind and had to be hospitalized, all due to the trauma they experienced but were never really able to talk about or express. .
Miri also fell in love during that time, to Mason, a boy who lived at the local orphanage and who also turned out to be a hero when he and other boys from the orphanage ran out to rescue passengers in one of the crashes but she was later heartbroken and ended it when she learned he had been cheating on her with Polina, a woman who worked at the orphanage. Her uncle Henry was a reporter for the newspaper who made a name for himself covering the stories of the tragedies and he later got married to a woman named Leah. Mason’s brother Jack married a Greek girl named Christina in secret( they eloped) against the wishes of her family but he later became successful and rich owning his own company and her family were able to accept the marriage.
Miri’s best friend Natalie’s father was also her family dentist and he was secretly having an affair with Miri’s single mother.( Rusty had Miri when she was just 18 and unwed) he and his wife would later divorce and he and Rusty would marry and go on to have 2 sons together . Miri’s long-lost father Mike was also introduced into her life but nothing much materialized from it and in time Miri and her new family moved to Las Vegas where she later married and raised 3 kids of her own. Her grandmother Irene also ended up marrying family friend Ben, whom she had taken into her home YRS before and comforted after the plane crash upon the death of his first wife.
35 YRS later Miri attends a reunion and meets up with Mason, her first love. They are both tempted to pick up where they left off but hold back, both committed to their spouses. Natalie has become famous and now has 3 kids, each by a different father, her brother Steve was killed in the Korean war and her younger sister Fern is a doctor,and Polina died young of cancer . Miri wonders where the time has gone and what could have been.