The Reel Review
The life and career of beloved young adult novelist Judy Blume, whose groundbreaking, frank discussion of teenage sex, masturbation, menstruation, puberty and religion in her 25 novels – among them, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., Forever… and Wifey – which have sold a staggering 82 million copies in 32 languages worldwide, is profiled in this charmingly playful and timely Amazon Prime documentary.
The most remarkable takeaway from this Judy Blume documentary is how incredibly kind, accessible, vulnerable and thoughtful of a storyteller she is, something supported by interviews with longtime fans, some of whom she’s maintained a lifelong correspondence, and celebrity fans such as Molly Ringwald, Samantha Bee and Lena Dunham. Watching Blume and her fans read some of the actual letters they have written her throughout their lives is incredibly moving. For generations, kids have really opened their hearts to her. Prepare to cry.
Directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok deftly use 70 years of archival footage interspersed with Blume’s own home videos and photos to highlight the unique path Blume took to find her voice as a writer while raising her two children in suburban New Jersey. The film also explores Blume’s efforts to fight the current conservative-led rise in book banning, which harkens back to the dark days of Nazi Germany. Judy Blume Forever is a lovingly crafted and wonderfully inspiring tribute to a beloved American literary icon.
• Judy Blume and her husband George Cooper have lived in Key West, Florida since 2021, where they own the Books & Books bookstore (BooksandBooksKW.com)
• Blume, whose books remain among the most banned in the U.S., is a board member of the National Coalition Against Censorship, which these days also is battling a rise in conservative-led censorship of books by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. In the past school year, vocal political minorities have led to Florida, Missouri, Texas, South Carolina and Michigan being the top states with school districts banning books, despite 70% of the nation’s parents opposing book bans.
• The 2023 film Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. is the first time Blume’s popular first major hit novel has been adapted to the big screen.