Judy Blume's Deenie: All the lessons that can be learned from this novel

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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.     

Anyhow, for those like me who isn't familiar with Deenie, this is what the book is 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...

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, dealing with my own body issues while also having to face peers constant teasing. Deenie moaned and whined, even protested loudly about her needing to wear a brace just as I think I would if that had been me but in the end, I love that 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. 

But it's not the only lesson there is on Deenie. This book also shed light on being emphatic and kind to other people. Before having to deal with wearing a brace, Deenie acted like the other kids towards Barbara, a kid from her gym class who was dealing with a skin allergy which made her want to scratch when she feels her skin start to itch. 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.    

And speaking of growing up and learning all about one's body, Judy Blume also touched on 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, because of this part in the story, Deenie was included in a list of books that were banned. So much brouhaha about teenagers and masturbation. But I don't see anything wrong or scandalous about it. Learning to be comfortable with one's body and skin is all part of growing up. 

And even though I'm no longer in my young adult years, Deenie is still so relatable! Not just about body and skin image issues which yes, even adults like me, still struggle with from time to time. 

'We saw Harvey Grabowsky,' Midge said.

'You did?' 

'Yes. We followed him all around the store.'  

'Did he say anything?'

'He never even noticed.'

Harvey was the cool kid in their school. And isn't that so relatable? Talking to your friends about boys and crushes. 

My best friend and I had our fair share of being boy crazy and following him around. 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 done crank calls - calling and hanging up when our crush answered the phone. But even as adults, we've had crushes and acted like a smitten high school kid. 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.😊 

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Lisa's Notebook said...

I don't know this author but it sounds like a really thought provoking book - I'll have to search it out, thank you for the recommendation.

Liz said...

Oh yes! She's got really good novels! You'll love her - whether you're still in your growing up years or even as an adult. I recommend her.

Postcard Stories said...

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

Liz said...

Happy to talk about the books I read.🙂

When 2 become 5 said...

I can't believe that Judy Blume is still writing books that are so relevant.

I remember reading her books as I grew up, she is an amazing writer x