The Genius of Judy: How Judy Blume Rewrote Childhood for All of Us (Hardcover)

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An intimate and expansive look at Judy Blume’s life, work, and cultural impact, focusing on her most iconic—and controversial—young adult novels, from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to Blubber.

Everyone knows Judy Blume.

Her books have garnered her fans of all ages for decades and sold tens of millions of copies. But why were people so drawn to them? And why are we still talking about them now in the 21st century?

In The Genius of Judy, her remarkable story is revealed as never before, beginning with her as a mother of two searching for purpose outside of her home in 1960s suburban New Jersey. The books she wrote starred regular children with genuine thoughts and problems. But behind those deceptively simple tales, Blume explored the pillars of the growing women’s rights movement, in which girls and women were entitled to careers, bodily autonomy, fulfilling relationships, and even sexual pleasure. Blume wasn’t trying to be a revolutionary—she just wanted to tell honest stories—but in doing so, she created a cohesive, culture-altering vision of modern adolescence.

Blume’s bravery provoked backlash, making her the country’s most-banned author in the mid-1980s. Thankfully, her works withstood those culture wars and it’s no coincidence that Blume has resurfaced as a cultural touchstone now. Young girls are still cat-called, sex education curricula are getting dismissed as pornography, and entire shelves of libraries are being banned. As we face these challenges, it’s only natural we look to Blume, the grand dame of so-called dirty books. This is the story of how a housewife became a groundbreaking artist, and how generations of empowered fans are her legacy, today more than ever.

About the Author

Rachelle Bergstein is a lifestyle writer, author, and editor, focused on style, pop culture, and families. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, The New York Times, NPR, and more. She is the author of three books: Women from the Ankle Down, Brilliance and Fire, and The Genius of Judy. She lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn. Find out more at

Praise For…

“A lively, important portrait of a true literary revolutionary, now 86, who matters even more today.”
Los Angeles Times

“A fiery and inspiring look at one of our culture's most defining voices and her remarkable life story. Told with Bergstein's characteristic rigor and wit, The Genius of Judy reads like one of Blume's best, breaking our hearts and putting them back together again.”
—Marisa Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author of Glossy

The Genius of Judy interlaces biography, textual analysis, and cultural history so deftly and so entertainingly that you don’t even realize how much you’re learning while you enjoy it. A tour of Blume’s life, work, and various contexts as approachable, wise, humane, and honest as the master herself.”
—Isaac Butler, author of The Method: How the 20th Century Learned to Act

“A thoughtful take on how Blume’s life and books translated for young people the gains of the women’s movement. Blume’s fans will treasure this.”
Publishers Weekly

“A timely appreciation of an author who indeed 'represent[ed] something much bigger than herself'—and still does.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Affectionate... Bergstein's biography does ample justice to this national treasure.”

“A must-read for Judy Blume fans, offering new and fascinating insight. Bergstein’s book will resonate with those who care deeply about protecting the freedom to read, and arrives at just the right moment.”
—Jessica Ralli, Co-author with Megan Madison of the First Conversations series (RISE X Penguin Workshop)

The Genius of Judy is an intimate tale of an artist finding her voice: a coming-of-age story worthy of Judy Blume herself. Here Blume’s timeless work sparkles with new poignancy, and proves how vitally necessary it continues to be to let curious young readers have challenging, thoughtful books.”
—Avery Trufelman, host of the Articles of Interest podcast 
Product Details
ISBN: 9781668010907
ISBN-10: 1668010909
Publisher: Atria/One Signal Publishers
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English