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What better way to celebrate the summer season than by reading an excellent, summer-themed book? We recommend acclaimed author Judy Blume’s adult realistic fiction hit Summer Sisters (1998). Unexpected and unforgettable, this book is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking in ways that could only be written by Blume. And Blume is just as big a fan of summer as we are, saying, “Summer is my season, the season I wait for the rest of the year.”
Whether you’ve already read and enjoyed Summer Sisters or are about to crack the cover, we bet you’ll enjoy these five fun facts about the book and its author!
5. Who knew? Judy Blume also writes for adults!
You may know Judy Blume as the “teen queen”—a moniker she’s more than earned after thirty years of writing over twenty books for younger readers! But did you know she also writes books for adults? Summer Sisters is, though not her first, perhaps her most popular departure into adult fiction. When asked why she made the switch, Blume answered, “I think it was—and is—because I am a grown woman and I wanted to deal with the experiences of a grown woman.” Though she feels the book can be read and enjoyed by older teens who have already been introduced to adult literature, this book is a clear departure from the YA stamp she’s created.
4. The names of the book’s characters have special meaning.
The main characters of Summer Sisters are named Caitlin and Vix (short for Victoria). Blume reports that she named them after her own “good girl” and “bad girl” personas—the proverbial angel and devil sitting on her shoulders! Though she believes this concept is universal and chose to give the characters such personal names, Blume assures us that the characters themselves are purely fictional. And, for those who are wondering, Caitlin is the “good girl” and Vix is the “bad girl” (at least in the beginning!).
3. Blume wrote this book not just as an author, but as an activist.
Blume mentions that she’s always set out to write books that are, above all, honest. However, with topics such as divorce, death, menstruation, sexuality, bullying, body image, and dysfunctional families, her books have definitely ruffled a few feathers—especially because they were aimed at kids and teens. Blume’s books have long been barred from school libraries, and her work became the target of an organized book-banning campaign in the 1980s. She got the last laugh, however, when she decided to become an anti-censorship activist.
2. The manuscript had its fair share of titling troubles.
Blume reports that she has often struggled with titling her books. She’s resorted to using lines from the books themselves, using song lyrics, and going with her gut instinct. But Summer Sisters took Blume’s self-proclaimed titling problem to a whole new level—Blume gave the manuscript a hefty list of twenty possible titles! Her publisher eventually made the choice, picking Summer Sisters from the list Blume provided.
1. The finished book was a very long time coming!
Though Summer Sisters only took Blume about three years to write, the idea for the book stewed in her brain for twelve years before she put pen to paper! What’s more, the finished book is a product of not one…not two…but twenty-two drafts. At one point, Blume became so frustrated with the project that she was sure Summer Sisters would “do her in” and be the last book she ever wrote…if she ever finished it. Luckily for all of us, she was wrong—and Summer Sisters was a huge success.
Information for this article was compiled from JudyBlume.com, TeenReads.com, Telegraph.co.uk, and Scholastic.com.
QUESTION: Have you read Summer Sisters, and if so, what did you think of it? What are some of your other favorite summer reads?