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A new documentary about Judy Blume sheds light on the profound impact that the beloved children’s book writer had on a whole generation of young girls. For many of those who grew up throughout the ’70s and ’80s, books like “Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret,” whose film adaptation hits theaters Apr. 28, to “Superfudge” and “Forever,” marked the first time they were able to read about often-censored topics like sexuality and puberty.
Rather than centering on the wildly popular author’s rise to fame, the film smartly focuses on Blume’s uniquely close relationship with her fans. The documentary, directed by filmmakers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchak, features a mixture of interviews with Blume past and present, tributes from younger YA authors and celebrity admireres like Lena Dunham and Samantha Bee and visualized readings. Most notable are the legions of fans who have become longtime pen-pals of the author.
Blume’s stories about being a comfortable 1960s housewife before belatedly embarking on her career as a writer will also resonate with an older audience. ““Come for the female masturbation, stay for the empowerment,” quips one interviewee.
“If ‘Judy Blume Forever’ partly functions as a study of one woman belatedly finding herself through the liberties of storytelling,” wrote film critic Guy Lodge in his review for Variety, “it’s given a more universally stirring dimension by its additional emphasis on Blume’s work as a correspondent to legions of fans — many of whom felt sufficiently understood by her books to write her profoundly intimate, confessional letters about their own problems in response.”