Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Very 80s Divorce

Judy Blume went through a really horrible divorce herself. Two, actually, if I remember correctly. She jumped quickly into her second marriage after her first one ended, and moved her two children across the country to be with the new husband. That marriage failed rather spectacularly, and she spent some time single before marrying her current husband.

All this is to say that she sounds like a pretty sucky divorced parent.

Just As Long As We're Together was the book she was working on when I saw her speak, which must have been in 1986. I was a student worker at my school library and the librarian took me with her to a conference where Judy Blume read from her newest book. I've never read it before, but I'm reading it now. It's actually pretty painful--I have a very hard time with books where kids are acting up because they're being treated unfairly, especially when the adults don't see it at all.

Stephanie's father moves to the west coast, but claims he's just traveling for business--her parents are split up for three months before they tell her, mostly by accident. It's ludicrous behavior--you can't keep saying, "I wish I could be there," when you MOVED TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY FOR NO REASON. Seriously, he didn't need to go for his job, and you can get divorced without leaving, oh, let's say the tristate area. So what he did was abandon his kids. I can totally understand divorce, but that kind of thing really rips me up. You don't have to be in a happy marriage to be two good parents.

But I think this is a very 1987 kind of divorce. Dad disappears, Mom and the kids are still a family, Dad is a vacation destination. It's amazing to me that this was seen as the way to go, normal and acceptable. It's not like I know a ton of divorcees with kids, but those I do know, or know of, are WAY more worried about their parenting than they are about finding their personal fulfillment or introducing the kids to the new girlfriend within days of first mentioning the word divorce.

I can't help wondering if this is Judy Blume's poor divorce skills, the poor divorce skills of an entire generation, or just this one story. Still, it's tearing at my soul. Which, I guess, is impressive in something with a reading level of 4.9

1 comment:

JMLC said...

It's funny, I read Just As Long As We're Together and didn't enjoy it. I have re-read it a few times and that hasn't changed. Perhaps it's for the reasons you mentioned. I always focused on the friendship more and was annoyed that, despite being close, Stephanie doesn't tell her friends about what's happening in her life-- that was so polar opposite to me that I couldn't relate (and I was a child of divorce). I just got my copy of JALAWT to skim and realized that it's signed to me by Judy Blume. I'd forgotten!