"A person gets what she deserves." Or Blubber

I must admit, this is the only Judy Blume book that I don’t like. I really fucking hate this book. Mostly because I really fucking hate the protagonist, Jill. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book told from the point of view of a bigger cunt. And I read a LOT. So congratulations Jill Brenner, you are the biggest (first person) cunt in all of Y.A. lit. Even at the end, when she supposedly learns a lesson, she learns the WRONG fucking lesson. I hate her. She has so little conscience, it actually makes me uncomfortable to read the book. Shit, could I have cursed any more in this paragraph?

Jill is 11 years old. All the kids are doing a report on a mammal. Linda, the class chubby girl, is doing a report on the whale. So of course Wendy the class bitch says that everyone should call Linda “Blubber” from now on. Evidently everyone else in the class can’t say no to Wendy so everyone starts being really mean to Linda.

And not just a little mean; like really. fucking. mean.

Jill decides to dress like a flenser (a person who strips blubber from a whale) for halloween. Then Jill, Wendy and Caroline (Wendy’s BFF) torture Linda in the bathroom, including lifting her skirt up with the flensing sword to show her flowery underwear and making her curtsy to Wendy. Miserable bitches. They make her say “I am Blubber, the smelly whale of class 206,” before she can get a drink of water. At a school assembly, Jill’s class is responsible for singing lullabies. During one song, there is a part that goes “rest…rest….on mother’s breast…” and the whole class stops singing during the word breast, except for Linda.

Jill and her BFF, Tracy, play a prank on the neighborhood miser on halloween night by throwing rotten eggs into his mailbox. The miser, Mr. Machinist snaps a photo of them doing it. Mr. Machinist goes around showing the photo he took to parents in town to figure out who put the rotten eggs in his mailbox. Tracy and Jill were in costume, so they were sure they wouldn’t get found out, but of course they do. Jill is convinced that Linda turned them in. (She didn’t but she SHOULD have!) So Jill uses that as an excuse to torture Linda even more.

Jill has to go to a bar mitzvah for a family friend. It’s out of town, but guess who happens to also be friends with the family? Linda’s family. Jill and her little brother end up at the same table as Linda at the reception and it’s totes awkward. For which Jill blames Linda, but really Jill was acting like a stuck up cunt. So yeah.

Jill has a talk with her mom about teasing, in general. Her mom says that people being teased should just laugh it off. Jill, in her infinite idiocy, decides that means it’s Linda’s fault that she gets teased. Because she should just know to laugh it off. And in some extremely obvious foreshadowing, Mom tells Jill to put herself in Linda’s place, to which Jill replies “I could never be in her place!” Stupid bitch.

Wendy and Caroline decide that they have to do something really terrible to Linda to get back at her for supposedly telling on Jill and Tracy. Tracy refuses to take part in it, and accuses Jill of being afraid of Wendy and always doing what she says. Then at lunch when the class eats in their room without a teacher present, the class decides to put Linda on “trial” for tattling on Jill and Tracy. And they LOCK her in the coat closet. Rochelle, a new girl who never really took part in the teasing, says that Linda needs a lawyer. Wendy is all like fuck that! But Jill, thinking about what Tracy said about her being afraid of Wendy agreed. Then there was a fight and the “trial” never took place.

But rut-roh. The next day, Jill was the new Blubber. Linda is now great friends with Wendy, and everyone is teasing Jill and calling her Baby Brenner and accusing her of wearing a diaper still and I don’t know what all else. But Jill, remembering her mom’s advice, laughs it off. But the teasing continues. So then Jill calls out Wendy and points out to Caroline how Wendy has abandoned her for Linda. People kind of see that Wendy is not a great person. So at the end, people were fighting and at lunch Wendy sat with a girl named Laurie, Caroline sat with a girl named Donna. Linda sat alone (again) and Jill sat with Rochelle. (Tracy is in another class).

So, you see? She didn’t learn the right fucking lesson!!!!!! Jill learned to stand up to Wendy, but not to empathize with Linda!!! What the fuck Judy Blume? God, I hate this ending. She isn’t even a little bit sorry for being a bully.

  • At the opening of the book, Donna is giving a presentation on horses. Evidently she is one of those tween girls who just luuuurves horses. She even said she was going to marry a horse named San Salvador. I WAS going to put a really nasty horse on woman bestiality porn picture in here. But although I am many things. A smut peddler is not one of them. Still, if you google it, you’ll see what Donna and San Salvodor’s honeymoon would look like. Bow chicka bow bow.
  • Jill fails a math quiz, even though she got the answers right. She didn’t set up the problems correctly, and “isn’t thinking the problem through the right way.” This book was published in 1974, oddly enough, a good 30 years before W’s brilliant No Child Left Behind policy.
  • I also hate Jill because she was raised by a nanny, Mrs. Sandmeier. When Mrs. Sandmeier went to her home country (Switzerland) for three weeks to help celebrate her mother’s 85th birthday, Jill was a fucking bitch about it. Cause it’s all about her, you know?
  • Oh yeah, Jill finally stands up to Wendy because Wendy called Tracy a chink. So….it’s OK to call a fat girl Blubber, but not to call an Asian person a chink. I like how Jill is totally picking and choosing her prejudices. And it never fucking occurs to her that it’s just not right to bully anyone. For anything.
  • Now I remember why I didn’t own this book. I remember borrowing from a friend (Hi Tracy!) and if I had really liked it, I would have bought it on my own. But I didn’t, so I know that I must have hated it back then too.
  • I need to read any other Judy Blume book next. It will get the foul taste of this one out of my brain.
  • Once again, my apologies for the use of the word cunt. Jessica Wakefield and Jill Brenner are so far the only characters to receive the honor of being called cunt in my blog. I can’t imagine there will be too many more.

About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in ***CUNT LOG, Judy Blume, really awful books. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to "A person gets what she deserves." Or Blubber

  1. Sadako says:

    Yeah, I remember feeling bad about this book. I mean, I LOVE Judy Blume, and I remember this one being good, but just really hard to read.I feel bad that Linda’s alone at the end. Sigh.

  2. I love the word smut. I hated this book…Nice unpacking of it though. The bullying in it, depressingly enough, reminds me a lot of my school days (I was neither a Linda, a Wendy, or a Jill, just an observer)

  3. Ames says:

    I never read this one…Forever was the only one I read, probaly because I knew it had The Sex in it. And judging from your review I’m glad I never did 🙂

  4. I never read this book and I never will! as a girl who was bullied myself, I feel terrible for Linda, and Jill is a terrible human being!

  5. Cat says:

    Ahh, yes. I remember this one well. I got really upset about the ending (being the object of abuse for much of sixth, seventh, and eighth grades). As my sister explained it to me, how often do you learn what you’re really supposed to learn from this type of crap? Depressingly true, that.

  6. Tracy says:

    I remember this book only for it’s cover…I love your filthy mouth in this blog. Keep up the good work.

  7. Gen says:

    Dude, this one is Meg Cabot’s favorite Judy book. Just saying. I actually like it. Largely because it taught me flenser as a vocabulary word and because well… a lot of people really never do learn how not to be bullies.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got to disagree with the majority here and say that I love this book. How often do you get an unreliable narrator in a children’s book? I think kids are smart enough to see what a bitch Jill is and to not want to be like her. Also, pretty much none of the characters except Tracey are likable at all. I always found it interesting that although you feel bad for Linda for being picked on so terribly, she isn’t really a very nice person either.

  9. sharkcrow says:

    I’m with you – this book put me off Judy Blume for a long time… well… until someone passed me a copy of Forever with the sexy scenes marked.

  10. mealibris says:

    What Anonymous said. Tracy really is the most likable person; everyone else is just one or another shade of jerk. Linda was a jerk–not that she deserved the treatment she got at all. But though Jill might not have learned the "right" lesson, readers of the book did because they understood how much Jill sucked. It's also honest, because a lot of people don't change, including kids.

  11. Janna says:

    Didn't the girls try to make Jill wear a diaper or something? I remember being kind of traumatized after reading that, haha.

  12. Sara says:

    THANK YOU. I actually remember enjoying this book in 5th grade, and boy am I ashamed of myself now. But honestly, I hate WENDY more than I hate Jill because she never gets punished. Yeah, Karma Houdinis are one of my most hated tropes. Doesn’t mean Jill didn’t deserve what she got, though.

    Tracy was definitely the best character in the book. I wish the story had been told from her POV and in the end she had to help Jill get over herself and learn not to be a dick. And even if Linda acted like a jerk I felt sorry for her because she was a plot device. Basically she existed to be tormented and treated like shit, and in the end she was still all alone.

    So yes. I hate this book and even ripped it apart in my own journal.

  13. Juliette says:

    Don’t forget the part where they shaving creamed Linda’s house, forced her to eat an ant, threw her lunch around the room, stripped her in the bathroom, or HELD HER HANDS BEHIND HER BACK AND F***ING SHOWED THE BOYS HER UNDERWEAR. I mean, i was bullied just like Linda so i related to her soo much i couldn’t stand reading this. I was treated just like Linda and the people are so cruel to her that I can’t read it anymore. I hated Jill more then Wendy for chrissakes!

  14. I have to admit I found some comfort from this book when I was a kid, perhaps because I identified more with Linda than with Jill. I was also an overweight kid (still am overweight at 33) who was picked on, and as with Linda, some of the teasing crossed the line into sexual harassment. The book was something of a comfort to me and let me know that I was not alone. On the other hand, Linda turns out to be not a very likeable character in the end, which becomes evident when the class turns on Jill and Linda is only too happy to turn the tables on one of her tormentors. So this book is a little unconventional for that reason as well as for the fact that the narrator is, as was described very well above, a cunt. (I have to admit that, re-reading it lately, I enjoyed the bar mitzvah scene because it’s spoiled brat Jill who gets to feel awkward for a change, instead of Linda.)

    Jill’s bullying stops when she stands up for herself, and so that seems to be the message of the book – but it’s not always that easy in real life, as I know from personal experience. Some people just don’t have the courage to do that, and those are the ones who are most hurt by bullying. One would like to think that Jill wouldn’t be so willing to bully other kids in the future, since she would undoubtedly remember what it felt like when she was the victim of the teasing; but I’m not so sure. Jill would blame the victim and imply that if you don’t fight back in some way, you deserve to be bullied. I can’t imagine that’s the kind of message that Judy Blume wanted to send with this book. Although, I think it’s a bit true to life in that respect – sometimes the villain (i.e. Wendy) doesn’t get his or her comeuppance, good doesn’t always triumph (and Rochelle would be the only character in this book who would qualify as even a little “good”), and kids don’t learn the right lessons from their mistakes. In light of that I can see why this book is still being challenged after almost 40 years.

    Someone on a fan fiction site started a story called “Blubber’s Revenge,” in which the kids in “Blubber” are now high-school freshmen and Linda, who has slimmed down into a curvaceous vixen (and managed to make new friends after switching schools in junior high) but still smarts from the bullying she received in fifth grade, decides to get revenge on her former tormentors in some rather outrageous ways. Too bad the author apparently decided not to continue it.

  15. Anisha says:

    My 3rd and 4th grade daughters were made to read this book for this 2014 school year. I remember both their confused faces when they finished reading it. They had the same “wth” look and questions to go with it. The ending was not what they expected. They complained as to why Jill never understood or “changed”. I agree that it’s a terrible book. It’s harsh (they cried) while reading it but I quickly realized that MY GIRLS empathized. My daughters understood the wrongdoings. In my personal opinion the book is shitty but it did open up discussion as to how someone should have handled that situation. “How would you change things?” was my question to them. I’m pleased to know my girls knew the difference and felt strongly what these girls did was wrong. They came up with ways to change things if they ever witnessed some atrocity as this. In other words I feel I got to know my kids better through this terrible book.

  16. JB says:

    I think this was a great book; I feel like it really exemplified the way middle-grade girls behave. In my class, we had the leader/bully (Wendy), the followers (Caroline/Jill), the victim (Linda), and even the girl who was above it all (Tracey). I like the fact that Jill really doesn’t seem to learn a lesson, and I especially like that the advice her mother gave her (laugh it off) does not work. I think the characters all worked together to make this a book young girls can really identify with, because it does not read like a book written by an older woman who is trying to teach all kids a lesson.
    PS – the fact that Jill and Kenny could cuss all they wanted? I was so super jealous of them!

  17. Cass says:

    While I agree that this was not a comfortable read, and none of the characters are very likeable, I actually think it’s one of the most realistic kid’s books written, and I give Blume major props for that. I suffered my share of bullying in junior high school, and saw other kids go through it too. Just like Wendy, none of the bullies ever had to pay any sort of consequences for what they did. Like Rochelle, some kids would not exactly step in and take the victim’s side, but quietly move in after an incident and say something kind, but then go on with their lives rather than try to include the victim in it. I never became friends with any of the bullies, and yet when I read this book as a kid, I was absolutely amazed that it didn’t end with Jill and Linda becoming BFFs and living happily ever after, because that was the kind of ending that most kids’ authors would have tacked on.

    So what is the point, exactly, of this horrid little story? I think it’s something like someone above said. It’s letting kids like Linda see that they aren’t alone, that other kids go through what they are going through and it’s not because of anything they did, but because sometimes other kids are assholes. They also see that there isn’t anything they SHOULD be doing to stop being bullied, because no one has ever discovered the magic key to ending bullying. (“Laugh it off” – yeah, Jill’s mother, that’s cute.)

    So yeah, this is a painful read, but like Blume’s other books, it’s real.

  18. Krystal says:

    Okay, now I want to read this.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I really hate this book. I read this back in sixth grade, though, and my first time reading it, I liked Jill. And I never once felt sorry for Linda. Re-reading this novel, however, I realize Jill was an even bigger bully than Wendy. See, Jill bullied because she decided Linda deserved it (LINDA chose to do the report on a whale, Linda didn’t stand up for herself). Jill constantly justifies herself, putting the blame on Linda. When you read the book, you don’t realize just how horribly mean Jill is because she tries to come off as the good, innocent girl (Animals are for loving not for wearing, smoking is bad for your health) but the reality is, she’s a selfish, rude, heartless girl who just wants to be popular. I came across a website that analyzed this book further and something hit me: Jill wants to compete with Wendy. As stated in the book, Jill is competitive. And she wants to win. Jill doesn’t love the idea of Halloween because of the candy or loot (she isn’t allowed to eat much of it anyway). She loves PRANKING people. And she justifies herself by saying they deserve it. For example, Wendy smashes pumpkins on Halloween. Jill says this isn’t FAIR. This is because she’s EXPERIENCED it before. So Wendy bullies whether or not it’s fair, she does it when there’s an opportunity. Jill DECIDES what’s fair-which is even worse. She never once feels sorry for Linda. It’s disturbing to see that no one, not even the adults treat Linda with kindness. Ms. Minish, the principal, even the nurse aren’t exactly supportive of her. But when Jill is bullied, she doesn’t face half the torture. Ms. Minish doesn’t get angry about her homework. Think about it though: why EXACTLY did Jill choose to be a flenser? Yes, she wanted to win. But in the back of her mind, did she think about Linda? I believe she WANTED to bully her. She herself says she enjoys it.

    It’s disturbing to see how negative Jill is: constantly complaining about teachers, homework, grandmothers, field trips. Her letter to the stamp company itself is undeniably rude. Yet, she never gets the punishment she deserved. She never even feels a shred of sympathy for Linda. I used to love Tracy, but now I see she’s just an embellished “better” version of Jill: both tease Linda, both love stamps. Yet, she has the beautiful hair, costume, dress to a Bar Mitzvah, more caring mother. Jill always chooses friends similar to her. Notice at the end, Rochelle is similar: she had a peanut butter sandwich too. The thing you don’t realize is, Jill always INITIATES the act of bullying itself: she strips Linda, she force feeds the “ant” in her mouth. Jill is even rude to her own brother! Yes, brothers and sisters fight: but not once is Jill kind towards her little brother. It’s so annoying that Judy Blume doesn’t teach Jill the right lesson, at the end she doesn’t feel a bit of remorse. At least I hope in the future that Jill won’t bully: Jill usually decides what’s fair based on what she’s experienced, so perhaps she’ll later on decide not to bully.

    I feel bad that we don’t learn a thing about Linda either. We read from Jill’s point of view: perhaps she’s not as bad as we think? Kenny seems to like her, and she’s got a sense of humor. Plus, she’s mentioned at lunch to be drawing. Is she good at drawing? Is she creative? We don’t learn anything about who she really is.

    P.S. Did anyone notice that Jill Brenner has the same initials as Judy Blume?

  20. Anonymous says:

    I also wanted to add (I forgot to state above) Jill says she’s BETTER than Wendy on Halloween. Wendy only smashes pumpkins, Jill trashed Machinist’s mailbox. I believe this annoys Wendy. Just like Jill, Wendy loves to win. Which is why she decides to tell on Jill, because why not? She can even use this to blame Linda and torture her more. Did anyone also realize the repetition of the number six? Wendy smashes SIX pumpkins, Jill cracks SIX eggs,and there are six major instance in which they bully Linda, if you count. In fact, even the animals in the reports at the beginning of the book symbolize the characters. A more detailed analysis is here: cliqueypizza.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/judy-blumes-blubber-ballad-of-a-bully/

    It’s absolutely mind-blowing how much hidden symbolism Blume incorporates! I hope readers of the book will read this analysis and get a new perspective.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Additionally (sorry I keep commenting so much!) Jill is often seen as not being a bully because at the beginning, she smiles at Wendy’s note only because she is watching her. This shows how Jill is competition and doesn’t want to give Wendy credit for the note, or agreeing that it is funny. She is COMPETING with Wendy!

    Also, in the analysis I posted above, this struck me: “Mrs. Minish at one point asks Jill ‘can you control yourself’ she means Jill’s laughing – but everything an adult says can be taken two ways and in a sense this statement not only fortifies the competitive undercurrent by posing the question does Jill lose control in the spirit of competition or merely deflect the responsibility of control ( like blaming Robby for laughing. ) but also implies ( through an unsavory character – thereby her belief’s are suspect ) that Jill could have control , it’s a choice. But because Jill resorts to the helplessness of Robby’s provoking laughter , she denies ( for the moment ) control. Again – Jill is playing the shell game – pretending control is not really hers , even though it’s there ,always here in her possession…though, had Jill been worried about offending Wendy would she have crumpled up the note and left it in plain sight or tucked it into her pencil pouch?
    When Jill laughs ( along with everyone else ) she explains ( justifies ) that it’s because when Robby Winters laughs everyone laughs. See she has given herself a reason. When the group merrily pitches in to torment Linda on the bus , Jill seems to have an attack of sympathy when faced with Linda who looks about to cry because ,we are told, Jill has seen her look this way before when Robby Winters accidently stepped on her fingers. Ironic that Robby had once caused Linda to cry , and yet he would laugh at her expense, till tears rolled down his cheeks provoking an entire class to laugh with him ( the link seems to inject a subconscious bit of black humor – Linda’s tears/Robby’s tears = humor ) Poor Linda! ( Robby always seems to be linked with Linda in particularly cruel ways – Halloween night when Jill and Tracy trash Linda’s front yard – Robby’s mom gives them a check for Unicef which they think is neat – like two hitmen getting their pay! And when Linda is humiliated by Miss Rothbelle , and Jill punished – it’s Robby who adding insult to injury asks for the simple answer. ) Back to the bus ,as Jill hands Linda her coat – she says oh here. The feeling achieved isn’t sympathy it’s disgust. Jill is disgusted with Linda”

    As you can see, this analysis is excellent,and if you’d like a deeper insight on the book, please read it! You will gain a new perspective

  22. M. Webb says:

    Mr. Machinist in the book reminds me of an ex-neighbor of ours, Mr. Rozanski, whom it was fun to antagonize by bombing rocks down a culvert by his property and then run off!

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