Generations of readers have found themselves in a Judy Blume book. Her name alone launches a flood of memories for anyone who’s gripped one of her many paperbacks.
Now the beloved American author candidly shares her own coming-of-age story. Emmy-winning filmmakers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok trace Blume’s journey from fearful, imaginative child to storytelling pioneer who elevated the physical and emotional lives of kids and teens, to banned writer who continues to fight back against censorship today. Playful and poignant animations celebrate the magic and awkwardness of being young, while intimate conversations with acclaimed authors and artists reveal Blume’s profound impact on readers. Long-standing fans share open-hearted letters they wrote to Blume over decades. With humor, sensitivity, and a healthy dose of adolescent cringe, Judy Blume Forever tells the story of the woman whose trail-blazing books changed the way millions of readers understand themselves, their sexuality, and what it means to grow up.
I had the chance to speak with one of the films Directors, Leah Wolchok about the passion project this film was, advice she would give to her younger self and why she thinks it was important to share this story.
There’s so much encouragement that people get from Judy‘s book, what’s one piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
Leah Wolchok: Well, I wish I could tell my 11-year-old flat chested very shy, insecure self not to listen to all those people who were telling you Judy‘s books were naughty and inappropriate and I wish I could hand her “Are you there? God it’s me Margaret” and tell her just read the first page. Don’t be afraid that it’s a book about a girl who wants to get her period, because it’s about so much more than that. But that was what I was told it’s about. And from the very first page, it is hilarious The first “Are you there God? It’s me Margaret” is…I’m so scared we’re moving today. I’m so scared please don’t let New Jersey be too horrible. It’s that feeling of like oh my God, I don’t know what it is about to happen1 This is completely out of my control, but my parents are moving me, and then the next line is like “I caught my mom sniffing under her arms to see how much she smells because it was hot out.” I could’ve related to that humor. I could’ve related to that insecurity and that fear of what is change going to be like, but I didn’t read it, so I wish I could handed that book to my 11 year old self.
What was it like working with the legend Judy Blume? Was there anything you learned about Judy or her story that surprised you along the way?
Leah Wolchok: I think one of the most touching parts of Judy’s story is the depth of her connection to her readers, that you can see through the letters that kids send to her and the letters that she sent back. The letters that Judy received had kids pouring their hearts out to her about everything. They felt like she was the only adult that could understand them, that they could talk about these really private things. Kids reached out to her about everything from problems with their friends, or their family or their teachers, to really serious issues they were having at home…And Judy wrote back when she received a letter from a child who was really in pain and who really needed support.