Blubber, by Judy Blume
by Judy Blume
Reviewed by Jenny McWha, August 2009
Like everyone else, you’ve more than likely had an experience with bullying at some time in your life. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’ve been on the receiving end of bullying... you could have been the bully, or even someone who watched it all happen. More often than not, these roles are extremely blurry. These complex roles of bully, bullied and bystander are the subject of Judy Blume’s book ‘Blubber’. It’s weird to think that this book was first published in the 70s when some of our parents were kids. Yet today a book like this has so much relevance, with news stories, classroom workshops and all matter of things to do with bullying awareness surrounding us.
Blubber is told from the perspective of Jill, a fifth-grader who finds herself making fun of Linda, an overweight girl in her class, after Linda makes a school report on whales. It all starts when Jill’s friend Wendy writes a funny note and it slowly spirals out of control until Jill realizes that everything has just gone to far. However, when Jill tries to stop things, she finds that the tables have turned.
THE GOOD: I really enjoyed reading Blubber, even though it brought back some not-so-nice memories for me of things that happened when I was not much older than the characters. But I really do think that issues like these have to be explored. I think creating a character like Jill was the best thing that Blume did for this book. Jill isn’t a bad person per se, but she, like many of us, finds herself following the strongest person in the class and doing things she normally wouldn’t. She herself puts it best when she tells her mother that Linda must deserve to be teased because she doesn’t stick up for herself. It is so easy to start thinking like this but this book shows us that we have to catch ourselves before things go too far. Blume also captured perfectly the rapidly changing friendships and alliances that happen in a fifth grade classroom. In just one day your best friend can change into your worst enemy and vice-versa.
DOWNSIDE: I really liked Blubber and everything that it had to say but I would have liked to see more of Jill in the role of the person who is being bullied. It was great that she stood up for herself right away but I think that she needed to experience what it really felt like to be scared and alone like Linda was. However, Jill is a great person to model for those who are being bullied themselves, as what she did will hopefully get a bully off your back!
GENRE: Fiction, growing up, and life lessons.
AGE: All ages can, and should, read this book. It deals with a very important subject that all girls (and boys!) should be aware of.
OTHER BOOKS: I haven’t read a lot of books dealing with this subject matter but Judy Blume has written tons of books for a similar age group, including Are You There God, it’s Me, Margaret, and Freckle Juice. Check them out!
RATING: Two Thumbs Up
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