“It’s better because we’re talking about it,” she said. “It’s worse, because it’s so politicized. It was awful in the ’80s. This is even bigger. And scarier. And more polarizing.”
I asked Ms. Blume if any of her characters ever had an abortion — a third-rail topic at the time and one with renewed resonance today in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling. She paused for a bit, recalled that it was discussed in “Forever” when Katherine goes to Planned Parenthood, but that was it — in her novels anyway.
“I’ve had two, and you can write that,” she said, pausing. “Both were during the horrible second marriage, when it just would have been a disaster. They weren’t emotional moments for me at all. They were just something that needed to be done. I never thought of that as a baby. It’s not a baby. It’s a clump of cells.”
It’s at this moment that I realize that this diminutive, soft-spoken author, who wrote thoughtful, insightful books for middle school students when it wasn’t even kosher for women to have a career outside the home, has long been a trailblazer in the fight for equality and body autonomy before it was a buzzword — both in her writing and in her personal life. You want to be around her because it’s almost a miracle that she exists.
“One of the real gifts of Judy is that she is, as a person, as approachable as her books are,” Ms. Fremon Craig said.
Mr. Brooks added: “When you meet people who are thought of as national treasures and the experience confirms it, I don’t think that is usual. She’s a credit to national treasures.”
And yet, in her presence, it’s the furthest thing from her mind. The question of societal impact is met with a pat answer. “That’s for somebody else to do,” she said. “I’ve got family. They are my legacy.”
Then in a follow-up email she added: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the question you asked about ‘my legacy.’ It embarrassed me when you asked so I dodged an answer. I still think my readers will say it better than I can. For me it’s about having touched lives. So unexpected when I started to write. It still makes me wonder how this ever happened.”