Documentary Review: ‘Judy Blume Forever’

Ben Miles

Judy Blume at 85 is deservedly being recognized for the wordsmith she is and has been for decades. This year (2023) Time Magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. And now her life and contributions to literature are being lauded in the 97 minute documentary, “Judy Blume Forever,” available on Amazon Prime Video and in coincidence with the release of a major motion picture based on her 1970 novel, “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret,” which carries the same title as the Blume book.

Mild-mannered and wholly self aware, Blume is searingly honest and devoted to literary preservation; that is, she is an active opponent of banning books. In the spirit of standing up for access to literature Blume owns and operates a bookstore in Key West, Florida, which she has dubbed Books & Books.

There are many notable periods in the self-confessed, unexpected success of Blume. While functioning as a stay at home housewife she began writing as a sort of in the house hobby.

Nevertheless, she received little encouragement from her emotionally distant attorney husband (she’s now been married three time and divorced twice) or the many rejection notices received from publishing houses.

Undaunted by her lack of support and the pile of pro forma rejection missives, Blume persisted. At last, Blume broke through the malaise of discouragement and had a young adult smash hit with “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.” Remarkable in its candor regarding adolescent issues and the maturation process – masturbation, menstruation, sexuality – Blume’s literary canon inspired many youngsters to share intimate details (through mailed letters) from their lives and to ask questions of the author.

Equally remarkable, Blume responded to these letters and even developed personal relationships with many of the young scribes going back five decades. Many of the missives to and from Blume are archived at Yale University.

In the documentary, directed with sincere passion by Divina Pardo and Leah Wolchok and crisply edited by Tal Ben-David, we hear interviews with the likes of comedian Samantha Bee, writer/director Lena Dunham, as well as a couple of Blume’s pen pals, now middle age adults, recalling the empowerment they gained through their letter exchanges with Blume.

“Judy Blume Forever” allows us to review and understand Blume’s evolution as a novelist, initially writing Dr .Seuss like picture books, then moving to Young Adult literature, and then to adult oriented novels such as “Wifey.” What’s more, “Judy Blume Forever” displays for us the quite courage of Bloom and her commitment to genuine education and honest disclosure.

  • “Judy Blume Forever”
  • Not rated.
  • Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.
  • On Amazon Prime Video


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