Book info

It's Not The End Of The World (2002)

It's Not the End of the World (2002)
Author
Rating
4.03 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0689842937 (ISBN13: 9780689842931)
languge
English
publisher
atheneum/richard jackson books
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It's Not The End Of The World (2002)
It's Not The End Of The World (2002)

About book: A fairly realistic story of how a marriage disintegrates and blows an entire family apart, hurting every single member of the family, especially when immature parents and other adult relatives are involved in the process. While this story may display family dysfunction quite accurately, it certainly doesn't give struggling kids much help or guidance as to how to cope with their parents' erratic/immature behaviors and projections. Apart from recommending a specific book to read (clearly one the author is quite thrilled with but which is inaccurate in many of its assertions), no other positive coping strategies are modeled for or suggested to the reader.Most of the kids who will be drawn to reading this book are kids whose parents are in deteriorating marriages and/or in the process of divorce. They aren't given any support from ANY of the adults in this book for the intense feelings and confusing thoughts they have. This level of character abandonment isn't helpful for child readers. They aren't given any suggestions of positive role-models and/or supportive individuals outside of their crazy/lying/deceptive relatives to turn to.The worst example of this surrounds the incident when the father slaps the main protagonist for "being hysterical". Hitting/Slapping someone is NEVER justified and is NEVER the wisest or most therapeutic approach to helping anyone (child or adult) who has reached extreme levels of distress. The author fails to deal with just how seriously irresponsible this action is and just brushes it off (along with multiple other parental failings). Neither parent handles that situation nor few of any others well, yet Karen never imagines giving either of her parents a grade for the level of parenting care they are providing (which would be a far more insightful approach, rather than grading each day, in and of itself). ****It's abundantly obvious that this is book written by a multiply divorced adult to justify her own divorces, rather than an authentic child's perspective on the misery that divorce creates for children.**** As such, the ending fails to, in any fashion, show kids that when their family blows up they will go on to live happy, rewarding, stable lives. Instead, it leaves the overt message that there will never again be any form of stability in their lives. They are given the message that their parents may, at any point, use them as pawns in their ongoing war, for the duration of their lives, leaving them teetering, never knowing with certainty which parent's home/camp they will be yanked to (via legal decrees).Additionally, they have no idea where they will be living, if they will ever again live in a stable setting, how many schools/friends/homes they will be jerked between, whether they will live with any degree of financial security again, or not, and most importantly, if either parent will ever become mature enough to think about what's in the best interests of their children, rather than perpetually focusing their attention entirely on themselves. These parents get an "F" in parenting, from my perspective. Their eldest daughter (as is traditionally the case, in most conventional American families) is left to take on dozens of parenting responsibilities because her parents opt not to do so - despite the fact she pays a terrible psychological toll for this dumping of parental responsibilities. This kind of role has left major scars for her to have to spend her adolescence and adulthood coping with, on top of the endless messages that she is no parent's "favorite child" (choosing "favorites" amoungst siblings is, inevitably destructive for each of them, on multiple levels). It is very likely that, in the real world, "Karen" would/will avoid marriage and long-term romantic relationships having lived through this catastrophic experience (which not a single adult is mature enough or available enough to help her cope with). The "family secrets" that this book is riddled with are pathologic, exactly the type of family dysfuction that permits incest and physical abuse to creep into the family, especially once the parents start dating/remarrying. While it's nice to see that Karen begins to tell her grandfather the truth about a few of her authentic feelings and perceptions, she only does this with: 1) someone she is not close to, 2) who lives very far away from her, and 3) only in letter form, rather than in person. It will/would likely take her at least another decade or longer to start speaking the truth to many of the rest of her family members (and probably require psycho-therapeutic support, as well). I sincerely hope the author's now grown children found better role-models and far more helpful coping strategies to deal with their traumatizing divorce than Karen and her siblings did.

I love Fudge and the other tremendously fun characters whom Judy Blume has created, but I have to say that it's really her books like It's Not the End of the World that have most captured my admiration and attention. When Judy Blume writes a book like It's Not the End of the World, taking on serious issues that affect families to their very core, it feels as if she's writing about something that really has happened. Her text is mostly unadorned by long use of descriptive phrase and other flowery elements; she takes us right into the heart of some very emotional, painful situations, and never blinks while doing so. There are other authors who are good at writing this type of book, but I've never seen one that can match Judy Blume for her frankness and startling willingness to show situations that might be worse, at times, even than the norm for the issue being faced. Most kid's books about divorce tend to be about families that are generally quite amicable; you might even wonder why the parents are getting a divorce at all, since they appear to get along so well. I think the main reasons for this gentle portrayal of divorcing couples are #1: To make sure not to frighten young readers in addressing an uncomfortable topic, and #2: To let kids who are reading the book feel some assurance about their own situation should their parents be contemplating separation. Yet the family drawn up by Judy Blume in It's Not the End of the World is not at all like the literary stereotype. The reader can easily see that Karen's parents can hardly stand to be around each other anymore. They rarely come into contact in the pages of the book, but there's a definite tenseness in the air when they do, and that heightens the emotions of the entire story. We are also given the opportunity to clearly see the emotional perspectives of both the parents and children in this book. When Amy, Karen's younger sister, worries that maybe their mother will eventually leave the family, too, it's hard to argue against her logic: Her father loved their mother once, and they were family, but now he doesn't love her anymore. What will happen if their mother stops loving them, the same way that their father stopped loving her? It's hard to tell children that biology doesn't matter in families while at the same time saying that husbands and wives can stop loving each other, but the connection between parent and child is, for some reason, forever. Then again, as Karen refuses to give up on her parents' marriage and she schemes to get them together to talk, when they do actually meet up together it is painfully obvious that they probably should end their marriage. Their situation has become dangerously volatile over time, and to stay together for the kids would almost certainly eventually have resulted in some kind of domestic violence incident, or multiple incidents. It's a sad, emotionally powerful realization to come to through Karen's eyes, as her world is tilting on its axis and spinning crazily around her, and she has no way to know how or where she will come to a stop. Even here, though, Judy Blume gives out no artificial happiness or sudden epiphanies; Karen just tries to step into her strange new life and keep moving forward, trudging through the sadness and shame that she feels because of her situation and hoping, just hoping, that eventually things will get better and her family might again begin to feel somewhat whole.It's Not the End of the World is a remarkable accomplishment by an author renowned for not shying away from difficult topics. Some parents might be cautious about allowing their kids to read the book due to the emotionally charged scenes throughout the story, but it is a finely built novel that should give a great amount of new insight on the topic of divorce to any reader, whether or not he or she has had personal experience with the situation. I would give three and a half stars to It's Not the end of the World.
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Reviews
D.M. Dutcher
While part of this may seem dated, keep in mind this book was written in 1972, before anyone had any idea of how divorce affected children. It was a guidepost for a lot of us who grew up with divorce in our families, and shines because it isn't a clumsy tract for either "stay together for the sake of the kids" or "divorce helps kids."Karen is a twelve-year old who is about to find out her parents are divorcing. The book is simply how that fact affects her and her family. If you grew up close to that time, the book was a godsend. It literally mapped out your own life and how you reacted to divorce in the 70s and 80s. I don't think anyone else really thought to do this for children; the common public wisdom was that splitting up benefited kids, which for many kids wasn't true. Even now, it's an eerily accurate mental landscape of a middle-class family going through a normal divorce. No abuse, no infidelity; just two parents who no longer love each other.There are some dated elements to it. The "Nevada divorce" no longer matters, since states don't have long delays with no-fault divorce the default. A mom can't really be a typist or learn shorthand any more. The worst part is a smack and a slap to Amy and Karen respectively.In a way though, it's far better than even modern books. That slap the father did to Karen could have easily gotten him in trouble via abuse charges. Divorces these days also seem a lot more vicious, and there's a strong tendency to moralize on one side or the other. But for kids, the morality isn't what matters; it's how to cope with the massive disruption it can bring to their emotions and life. It's Not the End of the World does this, and does it well.I think this is one of the most important books Blume has written.
Cal
This is a really good book that deals with real-life issues a lot of girls are dealing with right at this very moment.The problem is Karen's world seems to be crumbling down before her very eyes. She is led to believe that marriage only causes heartache and pain, and so she decides that she will never marry. Just before she entered sixth grade, she was overjoyed that she was placed in the class of a teacher that she desperately wanted to have; her hopes were shattered when she discovered that th
Seung Min Kim
Karen, the main character, is very dreaded, since her parents are getting divorced. Regardless of the presence of young Amy, Karen, or Jeff, the parents would fight every time like two wolves fighting for one deer. Even though the three siblings have been living in the same environment, all three of them have very different reactions toward their divorce. While Jeff pretends like he doesn’t really care about them, Amy is very anxious, but she swiftly forgets about them a few moments later. Karen is the one who thinks a lot about the family’s future. “I spent the rest of the day thinking about what Eileen had said. My mother has no money that I know of, unless Aunt Ruth and Uncle Dan are going to give her some.” (pg 60)Karen tries to depend on anyone, for she is so anxious. However, Karen also deals with the feeling that no one will relate to or empathize with how she feels.I would thank not only the people who fully understands me, but also people that already know that I do not want to think about divorce anymore. “Debbie’s mother called for me and drove us downtown. I felt funny because Mrs. Bartell knows about my parents. I was scared that she would ask me something and I wouldn’t know what to tell her. But she didn’t mention one word about the divorce.” (pg 57)I was so warmhearted when I read how Debbie, Karen’s best friend asked her very caring questions such as “You look like you’ve been crying… Want me to make monkey faces for you? … You want me to bring you your books?” (pg 37). The end of book isn't completely resolved, but still, it ends with very happy ending. Jeff comes back and tells Karen, "Don't ever run away, Karen. It stinks!", which made an A+ day for Karen.
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