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In the Unlikely Event Discussion Guide: Home

Judy Blume

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Discussion Questions

(From the publisher)

1. Discuss the environment of Elizabeth, New Jersey, before the crashes occur. How would you describe the community? How does the community band together after the first crash?

2. Throughout In the Unlikely Event, newspaper clippings are interspersed among the text. How do those articles help to provide context for the events that occur? How did they aid your understanding of changes in Elizabeth? 

3. Class and status play a role throughout In the Unlikely Event. How does Miri see herself in the socioeconomic structure of Elizabeth? When does she feel most uncomfortable with her family’s position? How does her idea of relative wealth change once she meets Mason?

4. Discuss Miri’s relationship with her mother. How would you define the relationship between Miri and Rusty at the beginning of the novel? Are there special pressures on Miri because she is an only child? How do Irene and Henry mitigate the mother-daughter disagreements between Miri and Rusty? Does the relationship change once Miri has her own children? If so, how?  

5. In the Unlikely Event is arguably a novel about the crashes as much as it is one about Henry Ammerman’s development as a journalist. How does Henry’s career evolve over the course of the novel? Is he ever conflicted by his role in reporting the tragedy? How has reportage changed since the 1950s?

6. How does Miri’s idea of friendship change throughout the novel? Discuss the scene in which Miri visits Natalie in the hospital. How does this incident set the tone for their relationship going forward?

7. Discuss the conspiracy theories that emerge after the crashes. For the teenagers in the novel, how do these rumors act as a means of coping? 

8. On page 29, it states that “Miri couldn’t help wishing” she had a father like Dr. Osner. What does she desire in a relationship with a father? Discuss her reunion with her biological father. How does this experience change her? Does she ever find someone to fulfill the role of father in her life?

9. Discuss how working women are portrayed in the novel. What challenges do these women face? Can you point to any particular incidents in which the working women—particularly Rusty, Daisy, and Christina—face discrimination or judgment for their roles in the workplace? 

10. The crashes create a sense of palpable fear and anxiety for the residents of Elizabeth throughout In the Unlikely Event. How does it affect Miri on a psychological level? What about Natalie? 

11. Several budding romances play out over the course of In the Unlikely Event. What relationship most surprised you? Whom did you root for?

12. How is teen culture described throughout In the Unlikely Event? What influence does pop culture have on Miri and her peers? Were you able to trace any similarities between the teens of the 1950s and the teens of today? 

13. Discuss the events of the reunion. Did the characters’ lives turn out differently from how you would have expected? Who changed the most? 

14. Judy Blume has had a prolific career writing books for readers of all ages. How many of her previous novels, if any, have you read? How did your reading experience of In the Unlikely Event compare with her other works? Are you able to pinpoint anything in the writing or character development that felt distinctly “Judy Blume” in style or execution?

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