Katie: Y’all, I want to give a shout out today to Patty for raising her Girl right. Being the great parent she is, Patty has gotten Girl started down the Judy Blume path. Being the great kid she is, Girl has some thoughts and feelings she’d like to share.
Patty: Because PattyKates wasn’t enough of a departure, we’ve decided to do a review à trois with my daughter – who henceforth shall be referred to as Girl – being very careful to maintain a level of age-appropriate snark, limit the use of cursing and low-brow puns, and try to keep her on topic inasmuch as it’s humanly possible.
(it’s not possible. none of those things are possible)
Girl: The book has the word “bitch” in it, Mom. And not like the dog. I don’t recommend anyone under like the age of 10 to read it. And there is racism too. You know, that word I asked you about but I’m not going to say it because it’s racist. So those are two reasons kids shouldn’t read this book unless they are at least 10 years old. Oh, and everyone is really mean and I hated this book.
Patty: Girl has recently finished reading Blubber and SHE HAS FEELINGS.
Katie: Girl, can you explain what Blubber is about to our readers who may not have read it yet?
Girl: Well, Blubber is a story about a girl named Jill who is watching/participating in bullying a girl in her class, Linda. Jill doesn’t think it’s right, but sometimes it’s really hard to not just go along with the crowd.
Linda, is a whale expert. She knows everything about them.When she decides she’s going to do a report on whales Wendy [this other girl in the class] decides to start the chain of bullying by calling her Blubber. Soon everyone catches on and continues this cycle of never ending bullying.
Isn’t that f*cked up?
Patty: YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!
Girl: I used the star thingie. I didn’t spell it out.
Girl: GET BACK ON TRACK PATTY YOU’RE WASTING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway…
Patty: Pot. Kettle. Black.
Girl: What? I don’t get it.
Patty: Why did the book upset you so much?
Girl: Because all you told me about while I was DREADFULLY reading that book was that “OMG GIRL, the ending is totes amazing!!!!!!”
Patty: I have never in my life said “totes amazing”
Girl: (she totally said it like a teenage girl y’all)
Patty: FOCUS. Why did you cry like a baby?
Girl: SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First of all, the ending was absolutely terrible. It didn’t really end at all. Well, I mean, it ended but it just kind of.. Stopped. And after all of the things they put this poor girl Linda through, they just kind of never talked to each other again. Nobody apologized either.
Wait to go Judy.
Katie: who wants to be the one to break it to Girl that that’s the way life goes most of the time? Oh, wait. I guess that was me.
Girl: Way to spoil it, Katie. First Santa Claus now this. It was just a sad book. They like pantsed her and made her eat an ant and for no reason. She was just a girl who never did anything to anyone.
Katie: Here’s the thing, Girl: sometimes people do amazingly kind and thoughtful things to and/or for each other. Sometimes they do terrible things. Have you ever heard the phrase “you have to take the good with the bad?” That pretty much describes humanity, and Blubber. That’s one of the reasons Blubber is a childhood classic: it’s an authentic representation of people, both good and bad.
Girl: Have you ever heard the quote: “Some people suck and others don’t so maybe you just have to DEAL WITH IT!!”
Patty: That’s mine, btw.
Girl: People need to be more kind and courteous of others and stand up for people. It’s just how we should be. Man, I should be a lawyer.
Patty: Christ. Wrong career. But seriously, Katie, you told me you shared some of Girl’s ~emotions~ when you read it. Girl insists there is no lesson to be learned because there are no repercussions and life kind of goes on. What say you?
Katie: see, here’s where Girl’s innate awesomeness and self-confidence insulate her from most people’s reality. When I read it at age nine, I thought of myself as the fat, chubby kid in class. It felt almost cathartic to know that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the only one having that kind of experience. Also, that I wasn’t the only one who’d ever been mean to someone else.
Patty: What I meant by no lesson learned was that she didn’t approve of the conclusion. She wept (WEPT) ugly tears when she read the book and wept some more when she finished, but the latter were mostly ragey-tears. She believes Linda was never championed and that after all the shit shoveled her way, she never really got her dignity back and no one was punished.
Katie: Give me a break, y’all. I haven’t read it in 30 years. I can’t really speak to specifics anymore, just what I remember feeling. And, I remember blubbering like a damn fool. (Ha! See what I did there?)
Patty: Anywhoodles, I think it’s a good empathy-building book for the tween in your life. Brutal, honest and haunting. Like childhood.