In the Unlikely Event

In The Unlikely Event

The story

When a series of passenger airplanes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey within a three-month period in 1951–1952, Judy Blume was a teenager. “These events have lingered in my mind ever since,” says Blume. “It was a crazy time. We were witnessing things that were incomprehensible to us as teenagers. Was it sabotage? An alien invasion? No one knew, and people were understandably terrified.”

Against this background, Blume uses her imagination to bring us the lives of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, who will be profoundly affected by these events, either directly or indirectly. But life goes on and Blume digs deep into her characters—we see them coping not only with grief but with first love, estranged parents, difficult friendships, familial obligations, divorce, career ambitions, a grandparent’s love, a widower’s hope, and everything in between. . . . Most important, In the Unlikely Event is filled with the same warmth and authenticity that have won Blume the hearts and minds of readers of all generations.


As usual, I had no title but I knew I wanted it to have something to do with airplanes and flying.  I tried all the old songs that are either in the book or that I was listening to while writing it like Fly Me to the Moon but there were already a zillion book titles based on the same songs.

One day I was talking on the phone to my old friend in LA.  Pamela is quick and clever and she said, let me think about it.  She hadn’t yet read the book, it wasn’t ready, but in a day or two she got back to me with In The Unlikely Event.  You know, in the unlikely event of a water landing or in the unlikely event of a loss in cabin pressure.  And there it was, the title I searched for but couldn’t find.

Thank you, Pamela!


To my loving, supportive husband George, who has been there for me for thirty-five years.  When the deadline loomed, he stepped up to the plate and said, I can be your Henry Ammerman.  He took the stories in my research notebook and reworked them.  I was a tough city editor, but he came through every time, always in good humor.  Without his months of work, his dedication to Henry, the story and to me, you probably wouldn’t be reading this book for another five years, if then.  He is my “Henry” and my everything else.  How lucky I am to have him in my life.

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“Blume, whose fiction for adults has the same emotional immediacy as her books for children, makes us feel the pure shock and wonder of living, the ways we get through catastrophe — and the ways we fail. But our connections might save us.

The New York Times Sunday Book Review