If you are of a certain age you probably grew up reading Judy Blume’s stories. Tiger Eyes, Super Fudge, Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret…. the list goes on. I think I read most of them in my adolescence and early teen years. I enjoyed them.
I was pleased to find Summer Sisters in the adult section at the library. I read the first few pages, in disbelief that I had somehow overlooked this book! It reeled me in. Judy Blume’s characters, Caitlin and Vix, begin developing on page one and grow deeper as the story progresses. There are many characters in the book which captivate the reader. Judy Blume often looks at a situation from many character viewpoints. The process piques empathy where disgust or disregard may otherwise reign. It’s hard to despise anyone in the book though you may want to.
This book is definitely a book for women. The complexities of some female friendships are captured quite well. While this story and the characters are more dramatic than most real life experiences, I’d bet any woman can relate to this sort of friend and friendship. We all have experienced the girl who influenced us to be more reckless, more academic, more sexy or more fun. Most women can recall the girlfriend who was her first love.
Women experience each other differently than men experience one another. The emotional connection and dependence occurs early on, sometimes harmful and sometimes not but almost always inevitable. Judy Blume captures how women who love each other can also become one another’s competition; how loyalties are tested and changed; how men are objectified by this game.
It’s not to say men and boys are belittled or lessened in this book. In fact, the heat and rush of first love is captured as well as the pressure a girl feels as she dangles between girlfriend and first boyfriend with her loyalties. The intensity is palpable and may stir up some of the reader’s own memories of first boyfriends and first girlfriends. Most of us discuss and fantasize about sex with our girlfriend before we actually try it out with a boy. The intimacy of female friendship is heartbreaking in Summer Sisters as neither character can express her affections and insecurities in a healthy way.
The book was first published in 1998 so definitely not new. If I had millions I’d produce the movie from this book. Judy Blume is a true talent in our generation. I’m so happy I found this book on the library shelf!