The Sundance documentary Judy Blume Forever looks at sex and book bans

Judy Blume changed the way growing up stories were told.

Lena Dunham, Molly Ringwald, Samantha Bee and more celebrate the bestselling young author in the new documentary “Judy Blume Forever,” which premieres Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival and begins streaming April 21 on Amazon Prime. Bloom, 84, whose novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” in theaters April 28, reflects decades of writing stories she felt kids wanted to read — and have a right to know more about.

“I allowed young women to be as complex and messy and dark and light and funny as we are,” Dunham says in the documentary.

This is what we learned from the movie “Judy Blume Forever.”

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Why Judy Blume felt called to write about taboo subjects

The documentary

Bloom’s Young Adult novels, most of which were published between the 1970s and 1990s, dealt with topics that adults would not discuss with children—particularly girls. She wrote about puberty, masturbation, swearing, and grappling with existential ideas.

It arose from Bloom’s own experiences as a child, during which she recalled feeling anxious about the world around her and resenting adults keeping secrets from her.

“Are You There, My God? It’s Me, Margaret”, published in 1970, catapulted Bloom into the spotlight. She knew it would be “terribly controversial” among adults, but that little girls would love it.

“I remember being that age,” Bloom says in the documentary. “I was fascinated by the idea of ​​changing bodies and growing breasts, for me to get my period. I was obsessed with it. I wanted to write the truth, the fact of being that age.”

Subsequent novels have also sparked countless fan letters from young readers, grateful to have found an adult willing to be honest with them. One reader, who appears in the documentary as an adult, frequently wrote to Bloom about trying to deal with her brother’s suicide after he sexually abused her for years. She says Bloom’s responses saved her life.

However, the parents disapproved of Bloom’s work.

Bloom says of her 1993 novel, Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson, which features a scene in which a teenage boy drops an f-bomb.

“Maybe your child is out on the playground screaming (the f-word) all over the place,” she says. “Because it’s just a word. If you look it up in the dictionary, which I did, you’ll find ‘condensed word without meaning.’ But it’s true. And Charles meant it. And so there it is.”

Banned Books: Controversial Past and Present

Bloom’s entire career has centered around the idea that children have a right to answers to their questions. So when the Reagan administration brought book bans to the fore of the national conversation, she became a vocal advocate for the content of her books and others facing book bans.

Book bans are on the rise. What are the most banned books and why?

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