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Judy Blume's advice on puberty, parenting, and writing

Author Judy Blume in Conversation with WLRN's Alicia Zuckerman about her new book "In the Unlikely Event" at Temple Judea on June 15, 2015, in Coral Gables, Florida.
Author Judy Blume in Conversation with WLRN's Alicia Zuckerman about her new book "In the Unlikely Event" at Temple Judea on June 15, 2015, in Coral Gables, Florida.
Getty/Johnny Louis

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret was published 14 years before I was born, but when I received a used copy of the classic book as a teenager, I couldn't help but think it was written just for me as I struggled to define my religious beliefs. This is the sort of intimate reaction author Judy Blume commonly evokes among readers. While she is not afraid of speaking her mind about controversial matters like banning books, she is not aloof or unaware of the evolving pressures of the modern world. She empathizes with her readers, she told the New Yorker's Sarah Larson: "If they cry, I cry. I’m incredibly grateful for my readers — they gave me my career."

This sincere respect for young people makes Blume the perfect candidate for chatting with teens who love to read on social media. As she answered questions from Tumblr users on Wednesday, she shared wisdom for teens and parents and described what it's like to face discouragement in writing. Here are a few of my favorite questions and answers.

On the pains of puberty and young adult life

"No novel since Forever has tackled virginity quite so comprehensively for young adults," wrote James Dawson in the Guardian. Blume has the reputation of approaching the awkward fragility of puberty with grace and humor. In these questions, we see Tumblr users eager to understand their history while asking Blume about her approach to young adult life.

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129226048298/is-it-pathetic-to-be-18-and-never-been-kissed-or

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129226119448/does-i-must-increase-my-bust-really-work-ive

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129225166273/what-influenced-you-the-most-in-giving-children

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129227165268/what-were-you-like-at-25-what-would-you-tell-your


http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129225886863/how-did-you-personally-handle-puberty-since

On the importance of letting children read what they want

Blume has been vocal about her opposition to the banning of books in classrooms if they contain controversial materials. As she noted during a recent interview with the Index, the author believes that "censorship is caused by fear."

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129224395338/what-do-you-think-about-parents-watching

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129226316668/ms-blume-im-42-years-old-and-youre-the-same

On reading and the life of a writer

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129227004628/i-recall-reading-several-years-ago-that-you-used

http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129225717413/have-you-ever-had-a-time-in-your-life-when-you
http://aaknopf.tumblr.com/post/129224705698/why-did-you-start-to-write-children-books-what-do

Blume has sold more than 85 million copies of her work.