When They Find Us – by Jenifer Ruff (2021)

FBI Agent Victoria Heslin is setting off on a trip to Spain with her new boyfriend Ned. They are planning to visit an animal rescue shelter that Victoria financially supports, and where Ned will volunteer his veterinarian services. They are seated in the first-class section with a small number of other passengers. Their flight begins normally, and Ned and Victoria fall asleep. When Victoria awakens, her breathing is labored, and she notices that everyone appears to be asleep. That seems odd to her. She suspects that something was added to the air supply to render the passengers unconscious.

The plane begins to lurch this way and that, and then crashes onto a barren land of ice and snow, with not a tree or town in sight.

Continue reading “When They Find Us – by Jenifer Ruff (2021)”

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – by Judy Blume (1970)

It’s hard to believe that this popular and sometimes-banned book by Judy Blume is over fifty years old. The novel was written in a time when American society was at a crossroads. The 1960’s were a time of challenging traditions, welcoming “free love”, struggling for civil rights, changing family dynamics, and a shifting of religious beliefs. By 1970, when this book was written, many had given up on organized religion.

Margaret Simon is eleven years old, the only child of a Christian mother and a Jewish father. Because neither parent wants to convert to the other’s religion, they have abandoned both religions. Their daughter is being raised with no religious guidance.

The story begins with Margaret’s family moving out of New York City and into a suburban home in New Jersey. She quickly becomes friends with Nancy, a neighbor girl a few houses down the street. Nancy forms a secret club with Margaret and two other girls from school. The purpose of the club is to compare notes on puberty and their changing bodies. Much is made of breast development, acquiring bras, sizing up boys, kissing, and menstruation. This is what caused the book to be so controversial over the years. Although puberty is a normal part of life, many adults were uncomfortable with their children reading the book, and it was pulled from the shelves of some libraries.

In addition to puberty, Margaret is also struggling with God issues. Does he really exist? If God exists, is she supposed to go to a traditional Christian church or to a Jewish temple? Normally a child with such questions would look to their parents for answers, but her father and mother are of no help. When her teacher tells the students to come up with their own individualized research project over the next few months, Margaret decides to make hers about choosing a religion.

Excerpt from Chapter 8:

“Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. What would you think of me doing a project on religion? You wouldn’t mind, would you God? I’d tell you all about it, and I won’t make any decisions without asking you first. I think it’s time for me to decide what to be. I can’t go on being nothing forever, can I?”

Continue reading “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – by Judy Blume (1970)”
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