Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Report: Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself

Summary: When Sally’s family moves to Miami Beach for the winter of 1947, she is excited and nervous at the same time. What will school be like in Florida? Will she make any friends? Will she fit in so far away from home? Miami Beach has so many things to worry and wonder about, Sally is in for one unforgettable winter! -- Yearling

I have had so much fun the past few weeks reading (and re-reading) so many Judy Blume books for Kathy's Shelf Discovery/Judy Blume Mini Challenge! One of my all-time favorites was STARRING SALLY J. FREEDMAN AS HERSELF. I know I read it a number of times as a child, but I don't think I could have described this book if asked. I remembered bits and pieces of the story, but it wasn't until I sat down with the book that it all came rushing back to me!

I absolutely loved STARRING SALLY J. FREEDMAN AS HERSELF when I read it a few days ago. I know that I've appreciated some of the Judy Blume books that I've read as an adult for different reasons that I did as a child; however, I think I liked this one for many of the same reasons. Sally is just a wonderful character with a fantastic imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed her commentary on life as well as her daily adventures, and Judy Blume did a marvelous job with capturing her voice. I will admit that I might have appreciated this book a little differently this time around because my perspective has changed -- I am now the mother of a daughter who is Sally's age.

What I didn't realize until recently is that this novel is somewhat autobiographical for Blume who spent a summer in Florida when she was about ten years old - Sally's age. I can so see Sally becoming a writer when she grows up because of her wonderful insight and sense of humor! I loved that this book took place in the years following WWII because the cultural references were so interesting. I'm sure I missed out on many of them as a child, but I do remember asking my mom about Esther Williams and Hitler. I'd like to think that reading this book actually did teach me something!

This book was just a joy, and I found myself laughing a lot while reading it. Both Sally and her family were absolutely hilarious. I enjoyed reading about Sally's grandmother who was a wonderful character -- I loved how she would just switch into Yiddish! And Sally's mother was truly a stereotypical mother with her overprotectiveness and fear of everything. As a mom, I really liked Sally's father who, while absent, still managed to regularly communicate with his children in very creative ways. It seemed like he was a loving dad and way ahead of his time!

I was a little surprised by the length of this novel. It was around 300 pages which isn't short for a middle grade book, and it's much longer than most of the other Judy Blume books that I've read. However, I ended up reading it in just two sittings because I loved it that much. Sally and her daily encounters were just so real to me, and I definitely could relate to her -- even at 40 years old. Who doesn't remember not understanding words that grown-ups used? Or, desperately wanting to win a contest? Or, dreaming about famous celebrities and pretending that they were a movie star? Or, being excited that the cute boy in class liked them? Sally was just a normal tween girl -- albeit a very creative one!

It's probably not a surprise that I'm highly recommending this book. I can't wait to pass this book along to my daughter because I want her to experience Judy Blume like I did as a young girl! Now, I just have to hope that she has the same reaction that I did and that I still have every time I read a Judy Blume book!

Note: The cover of the book at the beginning of this post isn't the one that I actually read. I posted this one because it's the one I owned (and loved) as a kid!


Sandy Nawrot said...

This is really weird! I read that book when I was little, but only realized it when I saw the cover. I had the same reaction to Deenie as well...didn't remember the title but that cover brought it all back. I had no recollection of the plot, just that I liked it. Thanks for bringing another memory back to mind!

Anna said...

If I had more time, I definitely would have signed up for the Judy Blume mini-challenge. I'd love to read my childhood favorites again, and I can't wait until The Girl is old enough for some of these. Actually, she's reading her first Judy Blume book now in class, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it.

Out of all the Blume books I read as a kid, Sally J. Freedman was my favorite. I didn't mind that it was so long...I never wanted it to end!

Diary of an Eccentric

bermudaonion said...

I didn't realize Judy Blume had written a somewhat autobiographical book. This sounds really good for that reason alone!

Beth F said...

I haven't read or heard of this one! I love the idea that it's semiautobiographical.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I haven't heard of this one, but being semi-autobiographical it sounds like a must-read for Judy Blume fans!

Michelle said...

As I said on Twitter, I hadn't thought about this book in years! But, I do remember loving it when I read it as a kid.

I will have to go pick this up sometime soon. I need to relive a little of the Judy Blume magic!

holdenj said...

This was one of my faves back in the day!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I didn't remember this book until I saw the cover pic, either. I'm excited about the two books I've got for the Judy Blume portion of this challenge .. maybe I'll add STARRING SALLY J. FREEDMAN