a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I was afraid that maybe the Judy Blume in real life wouldn’t quite measure up to the Judy Blume in my imagination.  I grew up surrounded by the characters of her creation.  I read her books for the sheer pleasure of being part of her stories.  I came of age by working up to reading those of her books that were beyond my life experience.  So, Judy Blume is sort of an idol in my eyes.  Far bigger, in my heart, than the enormous impact she has had on the world of young adult literature is the impact she has had on my world—as a reader, a young girl, a teacher, and a woman.  That is lot to live up to. 

I have been disappointed in the past by the real life version of authors whose work I’ve loved and admired for years. 

But Judy Blume did not disappoint.  Not in the least.

Judy Blume at the Tivoli in Downers Grove
First of all, the event was hosted at the Tivoli, which is a quaint, old theater now known for showing movies after they’ve been out for awhile, when they can be reasonably priced.  Perhaps even more well-known (or just well-loved) for the charming organist who entertains the crowd before shows and is lowered below the stage to mark the start of the show.   It was the perfect setting for an afternoon with Judy Blume.  

the organist plays as he is lowered
he begins to disappear
the show is about to begin

 From the moment she snuck down the aisle to make her way to the stage, Blume was likeable.  It was clear she was humble, even in the face of her more than forty years of mass appeal as an author.  She seemed forlorn when the hostess from Anderson’s Bookshops stepped away to give her the spotlight.  After the movie, she even had to be directed by her husband to stand in the light, instead of shying away from it.  How very grounded and down-to-earth she is!

Judy Blume in the spotlight after the movie
Following the screening of Tiger Eyes, Blume took the stage with tears in her voice.  She was choked up.  She confessed that she has seen the movie more than a hundred times now and it does not get to her each time, but something about this viewing struck her.  She had created the screenplay with her son, who also directed this movie-version of one of my all-time favorite Judy Blume books (although I suppose they are all favorites).  Her husband had gotten involved to rescue the production when one of the sources for funding suddenly backed out. 

Judy Blume in action
Judy Blume in action

Blume also explained that it was not until she saw her story recreated in movie format that she realized Davey’s grief was really her own.  Although slightly older than her protagonist, Blume had also lost her father at a young age.  Imagining this story developing from the depths of her feelings, without her even consciously acknowledging its roots amazes me.  I am just tickled by the way stories live in the marrow of our bones. 

Tiger Eyes is one of those stories that lived in my bones for years as a kid.  I was in love with the mysterious, grown-up quality of Wolf’s character.  I was thrilled to see him play a bigger role in the movie than he does in the book.  Although his impact is felt throughout the story in the book, he does not appear many times in the story’s action.  I was also completely drawn in by Willa Holland who plays the part of Davey (Tiger) in the movie.  Her ability to communicate feelings with as little as a twitch of a single facial muscle is brilliant. 

I wish Tiger Eyes didn’t have to be produced in 26 days because that is all the funding would allow, but I am so glad it was.  It is the kind of movie that should be selling in America.  It is the kind of story studios should be fighting over.  It is true and tragic and beautiful and uplifting. It is available to rent or purchase on iTunes.  Or maybe, just maybe it is playing in a charming little theater near you.  Please find a way to see it.  You won’t be disappointed.  Not in the least.

Judy Blume signing my movie tie-in copy of Tiger Eyes


  1. What a lovely evening - from the venue to the main event. And that last photograph says it all - there is so much warmth and joy in the way Blume smiles and leans into the conversation. A wonderful evening for all!

  2. It is a thrill to meet favorite authors! And what a great picture of you with Blume signing her book. I was in college when this book came out, so I'm embarrassed to say I've never read it. My TBR list just got longer!

  3. It's possible to write about an author meeting as "Wow, I met an author" or like you did "Wow, how many rich and deep feelings and meanings are part of meeting an author."
    I think I have said before that I am still discovering many of the wonderful authors whose stories and characters have been part of your childhood. Judy Blume is one of them.

  4. Way cool. My copy of Tiger Eyes is well-loved and I have been thinking about buying a new one just so kids will pick it up and give it a try.I think I will have to now!

  5. I had goose bumps reading this! Judy Blume has LONG been one of my favorite authors. Seeing her live would be better than seeing my favorite band in concert.

    Thanks for sharing this experience with us. So exciting!