Why did I start this blog? Well, it’s all because of Ms Blume…
I was that girl that would read constantly. Finish the books assigned to us in my English class. I read Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry before anyone, so my cute black-Levi’s-wearing English teacher gave me To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Judy Blume, as many of her fans could testify to, spoke to the teenage girl who was going through something. My ‘something’ was being too shy, slightly misunderstood, introverted and socially awkward. Inside I screamed out to be noticed but too many spots on my face and knocked knees had me disappearing into the scenery. Ms Blume had me at the first line.
I lived in a world where my friends thought my dad was Frank Bruno. Being the only black kid in an all-white primary school in St Neots and then in Gillingham, I stood out. Kids played noughts and crosses on my arm with a twig. Wanted to touch my hair. Lick my skin. My something’s were nothings when I read about Davey’s pain, or Tony’s confusions about life and growing up or Deenie’s world changing after having to wear a brace. I was an early reader and fell in love with Judy Blume’s empathetic words, softly speaking to that girl who vowed then and there to be a writer too.
I read Summer Sisters when I was a late teen and I didn’t know if the magic would still be there, if the stories would resonate with me. I didn’t want her to be a distant friend…
Being Black, British, Nigerian, raised in an all-white area, left me an outsider when you can quote Ms Blume over “Ain’t 2 Proud To Beg”.
I’m in my mid thirties and I still pick up one of Judy Blume’s books. The angst has all gone. My world I live in is so different now, and although the new words by new people have inspired, moved and changed my life – Tony, Davey, Deenie, Margaret, Rachel and all the others, will forever hold a dear place in my heart.
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