Then Again, Maybe I Won’t has all the familiar hallmarks of a Judy Blume novel: an honest portrayal of less-than-perfect children and their parents, a blunt approach to sexuality, and an authentic voice. This novel bears particular similarity to Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970), which captures the same moment between childhood and adolescence in a young girl’s life that Then Again, Maybe I Won’t captures in a young boy’s life. Both novels address similar concerns about sexuality, adjusting to a new town and school, and dealing with family tensions.
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t also resembles J. D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Tony, like Holden Caulfield, sees the world in black-and-white terms, holds adults up to impossibly high standards, and abhors hypocrisy. Each character relates best to a person outside the realm of adult “phonies”; Tony can find comfort only from his elderly grandmother, while Holden relates only to children.
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, although considered neither a juvenile classic nor likely required classroom reading, nevertheless occupies a highly regarded place in the young adult canon because it speaks so effectively and honestly to teenagers and preteens about what really matters to them. Blume is a master at exploring the minds and hearts of adolescents, presenting life from their perspective. While being neither judgmental nor didactic, she manages to teach valuable lessons about honesty, family, and growing up.