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Bentos for A Gaggle of Girls
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A must-read for everyone who grew up as a girl in the USA

I have spent the past few days reading Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O’Connell. I will likely spend the next several weeks recommending it to everyone I meet. In fact, I brought it to a homeschool coop meeting yesterday to make sure I didn’t forget to recommend it! If you want to give a present to a female friend or to yourself, I would recommend I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (reviewed with some beach reads) and Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume – the two books encircle the life of a girl, teen, then woman.

This is a book that will speak to anyone who grew up as a girl in the USA in the time since Judy Blume became a published author. There are essays by a wide range of women writers, all discussing the impact of Judy Blume’s work on their lives. I am sure that each person will have essays that speak directly to them, and essays that are less personal. However, all of the essays are thoughtful and well-written. I was amazed at how moved I was while reading the essays – I flew back in time to my childhood, laughed at some of the memories and cried at others. I felt myself nodding over and over as I completely identified with what I was reading.

Judy Blume made a huge impact on me in so many ways. I loved how normal I felt after reading her books. I wasn’t the only one with parents who got divorced (It’s Not the End of the World). I wasn’t the only one who got teased or felt shy (Blubber). I wasn’t the only one who had an annoying little brother (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). I wasn’t the only one who had a friend move away (Iggie’s House). I wasn’t the only one worrying about puberty (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret). I wasn’t the only one who (gasp!) thought about sex! (Forever) Reading Judy Blume’s work made me feel far more normal than I did at school, and it may very well have taught me more than all the Talented And Gifted classes!

The essays are written by a great variety of wonderful Young Adult and Adult novelists, and the book serves as a wonderful jumping-off point for more reading. Take note of the authors whose essays speak to you, then go buy one of their books (or get it from the library). FYI, though, they misspell the name of one author – her name is Kristin Harmel, not Kristin Karmel, and the misspelling made it harder to find her books! After reading this book, my Amazon cart is full, and I may very well have exceeded the maximum allowable InterLibraryLoan requests! I think I’m not the only one doing this, however, as two of the books available in our library were marked “checked in” Monday morning, but when I came to the library in the afternoon, they had been checked out!

If your life was affected by Judy Blume’s work, run out and grab this book. If you somehow managed to grow up without the influence of Judy Blume, run out and get Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, and then buy all of Judy Blume’s books! Don’t forget to share the books with your children! My girls especially love all the stories about Fudge in Four Fudge Books by Judy Blume!

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