When you hear, “Judy Blume,” I think many of us think Superfudge, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, or Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. When Judy Blume’s name comes up in conversation I ask people if they’ve read Just As Long as We’re Together and often many never heard of or read this one. Growing up, I was infatuated with this book. I would finish it, and then turn it right back over to the beginning and start all over. I knew it by heart.
So what was it about this book that made me read it over and over and over again? Well, having just reread Just As Long As We’re Together I am reminded of why I loved it so much (and still do) and hopefully many readers in today’s generation (especially with the updated cover) will grow to love it as well. In this novel, Judy Blume gets straight to the heart of what tweens think about and feel.
Stephanie Hirsch and Rachel Robinson have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Stephanie’s family has just moved across the town into the same neighborhood as Rachel, and the two of them couldn’t be happier. But here comes along Alison who has just moved into the neighborhood as well. Stephanie immediately is drawn to Alison and wants all three of them to be friends and is optimistic that Rachel will accept Alison too. Rachel is hesitant at first and protective of her and Stephanie’s best friend status with one another, but quickly sees what Stephanie sees in Alison. What’s NOT to like about her? But to make matters more interesting, they are all about to begin the 7th grade and attend junior high for the first time.
Rachel is beside herself when she finds out she is in a different homeroom as Stephanie and becomes more peeved when she finds out that Alison and Stephanie have the same homeroom together. Stephanie believes everything will all work out and be okay, but Rachel is pessimistic about the situation. Things get problematic for all three girls as they navigate a friendship between the three of them, start liking boys, worry about fitting in, worry about their parents and siblings, worry about their personal growth and development, and other trials that tweens go through.
Just As Long As We’re Together is a relatable book for so many different types of readers. Alison, Rachel, and Stephanie and their family dynamics are so different from one another, I think many readers can see themselves in any of the character’s situations at various points in their life. Blume writes about a variety of issues that so many tweens face without beating around the bush – it’s just so honest. Stephanie gets her period for the first time, her parents are going through a separation, Alison is adopted, and Rachel strives to be the perfect student while Stephanie is a procrastinator with her schoolwork. On the outside, they try to make it seem they have it together, but on the inside they are unsure about themselves and everything that is going on around them.
Judy Blume gets tweens and teens; I think many of us would agree. And other than a few lines here and there about clothes, television shows, and actors, the time period in which this book takes places can withstand the test of time. Get this book in the hands of those readers who are questioning life, friends, parents, brothers, sisters, identity, heartache, and about growing up. Just As Long As We’re Together will reach all those readers. Thank you Judy Blume for writing this book; it helped me navigate the angst junior high brings, and I hope it does as well for today’s and tomorrow’s readers.
Cindy Beggs has been a nerdy book lover ever since she was a tot. Growing up, she had fond experiences with her dad who shared his love of literature with her. They often spent many Saturdays perusing the local bookstore or library. Cindy currently teaches 6th grade in Southern California where she is eagerly trying to encourage, create and cultivate a community of lifelong readers. You can follow her reading and crafting life at www.papertwoways.blogspot.com.