This is my 3rd Judy Blume novel but 2nd young adult book from her. The first one I read was Forever. This is a classic story first published in the 80’s but I only read this book recently, way past my growing up years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Judy Blume novel in bookstores when I was in my teen years. Had I known about her, I would have asked my Dad to buy me one.
What Deenie is All About
When Deenie sees the brace for the first time, she wants to scream, ‘Forget it… I’m never going to wear that thing. Everyone will know. Everyone!’
But the words won’t come out. And Deenie, beautiful Deenie, who everyone says should be a model, is stuck wearing a brace from her neck to her hips. For four years – or longer! She feels ugly and angry. But only she can figure out how to deal with it. And that’s going to take courage…
What Deenie Taught Me
The main thing Judy Blume tackled with Deenie is body image which is something a lot of teenagers will relate to! So many changes going through one’s body when you’re growing up. To have a condition like scoliosis and having to wear a brace. I imagine it’s a harder thing to deal with specially since peers can be so mean. It reminded me of my own growing up years. I also dealt with my body issues and dealt with peers who constantly teased me.
Your Condition Does Not Define You
First lesson Deenie taught me.
Yes, she moaned and whined, even protested loudly about her needing to wear a brace. I think I would too if that had been me. I dealt with acne in my teen years and already I moaned and I whined! Glad that in the end, Deenie came around and she was able to accept her condition and her brace. In light of her new condition, she found courage and didn’t let the brace define who she was. It was great that she had an amazing support system with her. I definitely appreciated her Dad, her sister and her friends who were there for her.
This is another lesson Deenie taught me: being emphatic and kind to other people.
Before having to deal with wearing a brace, Deenie acted like the other kids, discriminating towards someone else. She was in her own way judgmental and hard on Barbara, a kid from her gym class who was dealing with a skin allergy. While she didn’t tease Barbara, she did have a nickname for her – the Creeping Crud and she avoided her too.
But when Deenie finally talked to her, she even became friends with Barbara.
Learn to be comfortable with one’s body and skin
In Deenie, Judy Blume also touched on a topic that would be deemed sensitive by a lot of people, especially during the time this was first released. Masturbation. It wasn’t delved on too much but she did talk about it enough.
Do normal people touch their bodies before they go to sleep and is it all right to do that?
‘That’s right,’ Mrs. Rappaport told us. ‘And it’s not a word you should be afraid of. Let’s all say it “Masturbation,” we all said together.
According to what I read online, Deenie was included in a list of books that were banned because of this topic. So much brouhaha about teenagers and masturbation. But I don’t see anything wrong or scandalous about it. It’s all part of growing up.
The Silly Thing We Used to Do with Crushes
I’m no longer in my young adult years but Deenie is still so relatable! This part of the book, where Deenie and her friends talked about boys, sure reminded me of how my friends and I were like when it came to our crushes.
‘We saw Harvey Grabowsky,’ Midge said.
‘Yes. We followed him all around the store.’
‘Did he say anything?’
‘He never even noticed.’
Harvey was the cool kid in their school. Talking to your friends about boys and crushes, relatable right?
My best friend and I had our fair share of being boy crazy. I remember back in high school, we would casually walk on the street where his crush lived in hopes of catching a glimpse of him. We watched basketball games just to cheer on our crushes and had even done crank calls. It was easy to do back then since we only had landlines. No cellphones or Facebook or any of the available messaging apps. When our crush answered the phone, we would hang up. And even as adults, we’ve had crushes that had us acting like smitten high school kids. When we had crushes at the gym, we would hang around the nearby McDonald’s, waiting for them to pass by.😆
Whether you’re still in your teen years or you’re well in your adult years like me, Judy Blume’s Deenie is still worth a read. Let it teach you a thing or two like it did me.😊