By: Amanda Guarragi
When you’re officially an adult, you see the world differently. You also look back on your childhood and understand that children need to be educated on more than subjects in school, but life itself. That’s why books are fundamental for children and young teens, so they can understand how they’re feeling. In those moments of anxiousness, fear, and self-doubt, the child has to ride the wave themselves because no one tries to understand them. Adults tend to use tactics that wouldn’t make sense when helping children in the development stage of their lives. Instead, author Judy Blume reaches into her past to write in a voice that young people can relate to and have a source to express themselves.
In Judy Blume Forever, directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok, they show Blume’s career journey and how she broke into the industry. She thought she had it all figured out and wanted to live the life she was conditioned to lead. After she married her first husband and had two kids, she no longer wanted to be a housewife. She wanted to work, and she had many ideas in her head. She always wanted to write, and so in her free time, while she watched her kids, that’s what she did. The structure of this documentary made it so insightful because there was a mixture of fans, celebrities, and Blume herself, confirming the connection she had with her readers. The use of old interview footage to break up segments of what each book did for children and parents caused the conflict.
Blume wanted to be honest with her readers about how tough it can be growing up. Family life can be difficult, friendships can be straining, and your body is going through changes you don’t understand. She wrote from the perspective of a young child, and adults were uncomfortable. Children should be knowledgeable about the world around them, and that’s what Blume wanted to do with her books. The more sheltered they become, the worse it is when they’re older. Moreover, the government planned to ban certain books from libraries and schools because of the subject matter. Blume’s work was under a microscope because she was an adult writing about intimate subjects that parents felt should be discussed privately. But what’s more private than reading words on a page?
Judy Blume Forever shows the trajectory of an outspoken woman who fought for honesty in children’s books. She believed that talking to children about important subjects like anxiety, sexual abuse, and grief could help them process things differently. Just because you discuss things on a surface level with your children once doesn’t mean that those feelings disappear. They begin to manifest because they believe they will be misunderstood or an emotional burden if they express themselves. Blume reached so many children with her book and helped them become adults by becoming penpals with them. Blume is a wonderful person through and through, and her spirit shines through the pages of her books. It’s a wholesome documentary and one of the best of the festival.