When I was a girl I obsessed over Judy Blume’s books. I especially loved Tiger Eyes because it dealt with everything from death and grief to physical attraction and risky teen behaviors.
I loved Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? because it helped me face my own confusion about religious belief vs. non-belief, and it didn’t gloss over any of the scary parts of puberty, even though it somehow made them less terrifying.
I loved Deenie because she was beautiful and had to deal with something really difficult – something that affected her life in all kinds of painful ways – and that somehow put my own life in perspective. I learned compassion and how to count my blessings.
I loved Forever because it dealt so honestly with sex and young love, and the kicker was that nothing bad happened to the characters. No one was excommunicated. No one contracted AIDS. There were no unplanned pregnancies, and the choice to have sex did not derail anyone’s life.
Of course, the truth is that any of those things could have happened. Those things do happen in the world, which goes to show there are plenty of truths Judy Blume never even touched. But what I loved about Judy – what I still love about Judy – is that she wasn’t afraid to write the truths she knew with all the gory parts left in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fantasy, but the only thing that makes me believe in witches and wizards, or dwarves and elves is that very human element: The Truth!
I find the truth in dialogue that sounds real, complex characters that must wrestle with opposing desires, choices made with wrong motives, disasters born from right motives, and all the various shades of gray that keep the world in motion.
But be careful as you go!
“The truth,” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.” -J.K. Rowling
Writers: Please keep getting down and dirty – keep telling the truth!
Readers: What truths still need telling?