REVIEW: Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume

REVIEW: Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy BlumeStarring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume
Published: Yearling Books (1977), Hardcover, 304pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction

When Sally’s family moves to Miami Beach for the winter of 1947, she is excited and nervous at the same time. What will school be like in Florida? Will she make any friends? Will she fit in so far away from home?

Miami Beach has so many things to worry and wonder about, Sally is in for one unforgettable winter!

It’s been forever since I read this last, as I lost my copy during one of my cross-country moves ten years ago. I remember it being one of my favorites, though, SO MUCH a favorite that I almost didn’t want to read it again lest it turn out to be not as good as I wanted it to be.

Alas, it did just that. While I did enjoy revisiting a favorite childhood book, I definitely didn’t love it. I didn’t even really LIKE it all that much.

I’m not sure why. I adore historical fiction and I really like slice-of-life stories with quirky female protagonists, but all the charm I remembered Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself having before seemed to be missing now.

Partly I couldn’t get over the scene where Sally plays concentration camp with her friends. I must have skimmed over that scene when I was a kid, or blocked it from my memory entirely, because I don’t remember anything about it. But it was shocking to see it there now, like finding a bug in your milkshake.

I can appreciate the scene as a view into the mind of a child, one who has to deal with a lot of bad stuff before she’s gained the life experience to process it in a way that doesn’t make me cringe. But I still didn’t enjoy reading it, and that’s not the only thing I didn’t enjoy (though it’s also the “worst” thing).

I didn’t like the characters, not even Sally. I’ve been overwhelmed with WWII books in the last decade and that time period no longer holds any thrall over me. And though I said I liked slice-of-life books, I wasn’t interested in any of the life that was happening in this slice.

Perhaps I was just in entirely the wrong reading mood when I picked this up last month. Otherwise I don’t understand how I could feel almost entirely opposite to how I did only ten years ago. I haven’t changed THAt at much as a reader, surely?

Maybe when I read this book again–because I totally will– I’ll think differently about that scene and about the book as a whole. Maybe I’ll be able to find what I liked about it the first ten times I read it. Maybe I’ll fall in love with it again! That’s an exciting prospect.

Read: January 8, 2015

I don’t think the crappy cover helped any, either. Here’s what my old copy looked like:

I like it WAY more. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “REVIEW: Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume”

  1. Oh man I actually loved that book as a child. I read it several times. Here is the funny thing: I was JUST thinking about this book the other day, but I could not for the life of me remember the title. Thanks to you, now I do! Ha. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy it more as an adult. I plan on buying a new copy and reading it again. I hope I find as much enjoyment in it this time around. 🙂

  2. I’m seriously having trouble figuring out the exact reason why I dislike every Judy Blume book I reread as an adult. They just rub me the wrong way. I don’t like the characters, some of their actions are annoying while others are actually offensive. But I seriously read and reread them as a kid so it makes me feel bad to not connect with them now. I’m not sure if I read this one ever but I totally know how you feel … except I probably won’t be reading any of the ones I’ve reread ever again.

    1. Thank goodness I’m not alone! Intellectually, I understand why Sally acts as she does, and she’s a wonderful kid character. When I was a kid I LOVED her. But now? Hm.

      That said, the only Judy Blume book I’ve managed to reread as an adult and love just as much is Blubber. Now that I think about it, I may like it more NOW than I did as a kid, actually. (When I was a kid I was to busy being shocked at the swear words, haha!)

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