Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
It’s Not the End of the World might be characterized as Blume’s most personal, almost autobiographical, early novel, given the events of her first marriage. Though she was yet to divorce her husband John Blume, the author found herself consumed with anxiety as she researched families going through divorce. In later years, she admitted that she had not been honest with herself concerning her own failing marriage. She came to find that this novel is as much, if not more, about the feelings a child must experience as her parents go through divorce as the topic of divorce itself.
The plot, though much more singular in scope than Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, covers the complex emotions sixth-grader Karen Newman explores while watching her parents’ marriage disintegrate day by day. In an effort to catalog the experience, she keeps a brief journal in which she grades each day by how its events affect her. When a boy she is attracted to in class chooses her as a spelling partner, the day rates an A+; when her brooding brother, Jeff, returns home after running away, C-.
Karen’s confessional narrative in her journal expands upon a running commentary she keeps with the reader, who becomes a passive participant in the conversation. Although Karen has been best friends with Debbie since kindergarten, she forms an apprentice-like relationship with Val, whose mother is a recent divorcée.
(The entire section is 641 words.)
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