In the Unlikely Event

In the Unlikely Event

by Judy Blume

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525434771
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/27/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 654,050
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Judy Blume is one of America’s most beloved authors. She grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and was a teenager in 1952 when the real events in this book took place. She has written books for all ages. Her twenty-eight previous titles include Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Forever; and Summer Sisters. Her books have sold more than eighty-five million copies in thirty-two languages. She is a champion of intellectual freedom, working with the National Coalition Against Censorship in support of writers, teachers, librarians, and students. In 2004, Blume was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She lives in Key West and New York City.


New York's Upper East Side, Key West, and Martha's Vineyard

Date of Birth:

February 12, 1938

Place of Birth:

Elizabeth, New Jersey


B.S. in education, New York University, 1961

Read an Excerpt

Miri was not happy when Rusty showed up at the Osners' party. And even less happy to see she was wearing her good black dress, her dress shoes and stockings with seams. Then there was the hair. Rita Hayworth hair. To her shoulders. Heads turned when Rusty came into the living room. She waved at Miri but Miri turned away. "What is my mother doing here?" she asked Natalie.

"My mother wants to introduce her to Cousin Tewky from Birmingham."

"Tewky? What kind of a name is Tewky?"

"Some family nickname. He's my mother's first cousin, from the banking side of the family. You know, Purvis Brothers Bank."

Miri didn't know.

"My mother's from the department store side."

Miri didn't know that, either. "You should have warned me," she told Natalie.

"How was I supposed to know your mother didn't tell you she was coming?"

Corinne greeted Rusty and led her straight to a man, a man who must have been Tewky Purvis, balding, not especially handsome, but not ugly, either, with a mustache. Well, half the men in the room had mustaches, including Dr. O. She couldn't hold that against him. They were talking now, her mother and Tewky Purvis, and laughing, maybe even flirting. Miri didn't like it. She didn't know how grown-ups judged each other, especially how women judged men. It never made sense to her. It's about character, Rusty once told her. Strength, goodness. A sense of humor doesn't hurt, either.

She didn't ask how men judged women because she already knew. It was obvious, and Rusty looked glamorous tonight. "That's not all of it," Rusty had once argued. "But you're right--looks are certainly a starting point. Chemistry, too." Miri understood chemistry now. Chemistry turned your legs to jelly and made your insides roll over.

If Mason hadn't had to work tonight Miri might not be at the Osners' party. She hoped she'd never have to choose between her best friend and the boy she loved. Since seventh grade, New Year's Eve had been for just the two of them, Natalie and Miri. She didn't think Natalie would have invited Mason. Maybe someday when Natalie was also in love, they'd invite dates to the Osners' party, but not now. Rusty must have thought that Miri would be out with Mason when she accepted Corinne's invitation. Now she'd have to deal with her daughter keeping an eye on her.

She decided to go to the party at the last minute when Irene urged her to get out and enjoy herself. Seeing the worry on Miri's face now, she began to regret her decision. Maybe it had been a mistake to keep the men in her life a secret. Not that there had been many. But she'd never brought a date home. Not one man in fifteen years. She hadn't done a thing to get Miri used to the idea, to the possibility. In all these years, there had been just two serious boyfriends. One of them had been married. She certainly wasn't going to introduce him to her family. She knew from the start he would never leave his wife and children. She knew she wasn't his first affair. Yet she kept seeing him. For five years she saw him every week. If you asked her about him today she wouldn't be able to explain it. Just that she'd been young and she'd enjoyed the attention, the thrill, the sex.

The second man was decent and available. He'd proposed after a few months, with a diamond as big as her thumbnail. For a minute she thought she could learn to love him, could be happy with his promise of a big house in the suburbs, a maid to clean and cook, summer camp for Miri. But when it came time to introduce him to the family she couldn't do it. They would see right through her. They would see the truth--she didn't love him, wasn't the least attracted to him and didn't want to marry him, not even for an easier life.

Sometimes she wondered about her first love, but not often. A girl gets in trouble, she marries the boy. They wind up hating each other, resenting each other and finally they get a divorce. By then it's taken its toll on both of them and their children. No, she never wanted that, which is why she'd refused to allow her mother to call the Monskys and force Mike to marry her. Maybe she would fall in love again. If and when that happened she would introduce him to Miri. But until then, what was the point?

Reading Group Guide

The questions that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume’s gripping new novel about a New Jersey community that is left reeling after a series of tragic plane crashes strikes their town in the early 1950s.

1. Discuss the environment of Elizabeth, New Jersey, before the crashes occur. How would you describe the community? How does the community band together after the first crash?

2. Throughout In the Unlikely Event, newspaper clippings are interspersed among the text. How do those articles help to provide context for the events that occur? How did they aid your understanding of changes in Elizabeth?

3. Class and status play a role throughout In the Unlikely Event. How does Miri see herself in the socioeconomic structure of Elizabeth? When does she feel most uncomfortable with her family’s position? How does her idea of relative wealth change once she meets Mason?

4. Discuss Miri’s relationship with her mother. How would you define the relationship between Miri and Rusty at the beginning of the novel? Are there special pressures on Miri because she is an only child? How do Irene and Henry mitigate the mother-daughter disagreements between Miri and Rusty? Does the relationship change once Miri has her own children? If so, how?

5. In the Unlikely Event is arguably a novel about the crashes as much as it is one about Henry Ammerman’s development as a journalist. How does Henry’s career evolve over the course of the novel? Is he ever conflicted by his role in reporting the tragedy? How has reportage changed since the 1950s?

6. How does Miri’s idea of friendship change throughout the novel? Discuss the scene in which Miri visits Natalie in the hospital. How does this incident set the tone for their relationship going forward?

7. Discuss the conspiracy theories that emerge after the crashes. For the teenagers in the novel, how do these rumors act as a means of coping?

8. On page 35, we read that “Miri couldn’t help wishing” she had a father like Dr. Osner. What does she desire in a relationship with a father? Discuss her reunion with her biological father. How does this experience change her? Does she ever find someone to fulfill the role of father in her life?

9. Discuss how working women are portrayed in the novel. What challenges do these women face? Can you point to any particular incidents in which the working women—particularly Rusty, Daisy, and Christina—face discrimination or judgment for their roles in the workplace?

10. The crashes create a sense of palpable fear and anxiety for the residents of Elizabeth throughout In the Unlikely Event. How does it affect Miri on a psychological level? What about Natalie?

11. Several budding romances play out over the course of In the Unlikely Event. What relationship most surprised you? Whom did you root for?

12. How is teen culture described throughout In the Unlikely Event? What influence does pop culture have on Miri and her peers? Were you able to trace any similarities between the teens of the 1950s and the teens of today?

13. Discuss the events of the reunion. Did the characters’ lives turn out differently from how you would have expected? Who changed the most?

14. Judy Blume has had a prolific career writing books for readers of all ages. How many of her previous novels, if any, have you read? How did your reading experience of In the Unlikely Event compare with her other works? Are you able to pinpoint anything in the writing or character development that felt distinctly “Judy Blume” in style or execution?

Customer Reviews

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In the Unlikely Event 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeeze! Big sisters, little sisters, boyfriends, uncles, aunts, uncle's girlfriends, grandmothers, neighbors, moms, mom's boyfriends, employees of friends fathers and on and on......Better keep a notebook handy to keep them straight! Oh, and then there is a little about an airplane crash here and there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Hate that this book has an ending. I Love it. I have read every single book By Judy Blume several times over and this will be yet another one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"In the unlikely event...she hears the flight attendant saying in her head. 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?" p. 394 This is a story that has true incidents at its foundation: Three plane crashes in Elizabeth New Jersey in the 50s. The ripple effect with the children, the families, friends and strangers in the vicinty makes for compelling reading, in true Blume style, and for another great summer adult read by one of the most well known authors of YA and Adult books these days. Although it takes a while to read at close to 400 pages it draws you in and keeps your interest as the story unfolds and refolds upon itself. The book lives up to its pre-release hype. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Female character was whiny and weak. Story was boring, slow and predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking so forward to this book. Unfortunately I didn't keep me interested until the last 100 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly just couldn't finish this. Entirely too many characters and boring as can be. Wish I hadn't wasted money on it!
love2read123 More than 1 year ago
I, too, was sorry to reach the end.  I have been reading Judy Blume's novels since early adolescence (I am 50), and I was as captivated by this novel as any of her previous works.  I thought the multiple characters and perspectives was a device that worked extremely well, and the joy and sense of dread that Miri, the main character, experience, felt authentic and true.  Judy Blume has not lost her touch, and this is a satisfying, worthwhile novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with so many comments referring to all of the characters. Difficult to keep them straight. Being a Judy Blume fan for years and years I have to say this book was a big disappointment. Could not get into any of the characters, it read more like a children or very young reader's book and not a good one. Boring and disconnected to the point of annoyance. I did manage to finish but regrets that I did. Waste of time and dollars. Amazing that it took 5 years for author to finish this book. Her readers should have received much more than she gave us. Again, where is the Judy Blume that we all waited for her next story. This was not it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So many characters, so many situations. Trying to cover so much. Really disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having grown up in Elizabeth, NJ, I was very interested to see what elements of the neighborhood Judy would incorporate into the novel. I was not disappointed! I went sledding on Wyoming Avenue, I rode the #24 bus to Elmora, I attended Shelly School #21. But as entertaining as that all was, it was almost too much nostalgia. It got to the point that it became trite and contrived. The writing on a whole was not spectacular, but mediocre. I expected more of Judy Blume. There was a variety of sex in the book, which really could have been left out. It was beside the point, could have been accomplished with much less detail, and seemed to be included for sensationalism. Would I recommend the book? If you grew up in Elizabeth, especially during the 50's and 60's, most definitely. You will enjoy the place/store/school references. Would I recommend it to a young adult? Definitely not because of the sex, which is a shame because the air crash story line was based on fact and was interesting. Certainly a captivating topic, three air crashes within several weeks, interesting to see how she weaves the characters into the storyline and interactions with each other, and entertaining as a summer read. I'll give it a middle of the road 3 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was advertised as an adult book. While the topics were adult topics the plot, aside from the plane crashes, was adolescent.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
Easy read with lots of interesting turns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love your book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Judy Blume has been a favorite author since I was a young girl. She's made me laugh, made me cry, and has had me thinking. I appreciate her heart. Thank you for a lifetime of genuine stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a really good book i think that rhere should be more bools about them please makr more and keep reading !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how this story was told in vignettes by each of the characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow so good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worth a read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kissed my hands
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book, but it had way too many characters. The story centers around a series of plane crashes in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1951 and 1952. I didn't realize until I read the author's note that Judy Blume grew up in Elizabeth, and she was in eight grade when the crashes occurred in real life. This book is historical fiction. The central character is Miri, a 15-year old, living with her mother, uncle, and grandmother in Elizabeth. Everyone in the town is impacted by the crashes. Uncle Henry is the town reporter, Miri and her mother witness the first crash, Miri's best friend communicates with one of the victims of the first crash, etc. A LOT of other people are showcased as well. This book alternates perspective every few pages. It's all in third person, thankfully, but the cast of characters is extremely large. I actually took notes in the first chapter and came up with a list of 13 people. Some were never mentioned again after that chapter. And many more were added as the book progressed. I think Blume was trying to make the reader feel attached to the characters who would die in the crashes to make it more personal, but it just bogged down the central story. I didn't really care about many of the characters, and I ended up anticipating more crashes, so the cast list would shrink, as horrible as that sounds. Later in the book I got into the story more. I really liked the story of Miri, who is experiencing her first romantic relationship and the end of a very close friendship. Blume's insight into the adolescent female mind definitely shines in this book. It reads like YA at times. I enjoyed the historical elements of this book and ultimately got into the story of Miri and her family, but there were just too many characters to make this a great book. It reminded me of The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Good story in the end, but too much of a struggle to get there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LBC1974 More than 1 year ago
I adored this book. Once again, Judy Blume has delivered a great book. There are a lot of characters but somehow it all works and even seems necessary to have so many players. I enjoyed every minute of this book and hope Blume writes another adult novel in the near future.