Thursday, April 15, 2010

Deenie


Holy Judy Blume! Don't you worry, kiddos. This is the last Judy Blume book in my possession at the moment. Although, I did see Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret at Goodwill this week. But it was missing it's cover. And it was the updated version that did not involve sanitary belts...Yes, I checked.

Although, why am I so concerned about Judy overload? Isn't Annie M. overload a regular part of this here blog? 

Any hoodles...

Deenie (or Wilmadeene...) is a thirteen-year-old aspiring model...or so her mother would like to think. As Mrs. Fenner likes to point out, Deenie's sister Helen got the brains and Deenie got the looks. Way to pigeonhole your kids. Unfortunately for Mrs. Fenner, Deenie just wants to be a thirteen-year-old girl. She wants to make the cheerleading squad or hang out with her friends on Saturdays instead of heading to New York City to meet modeling agents.

Deenie's attempts at modeling haven't been going well, though. Everyone keeps commenting on her posture. Despite Deenie's greatest efforts, her posture is still just off. After she fails to make the cheerleading squad, her gym teacher asks her to stay after school so she can check Deenie's posture. This leads to Deenie's parents getting a call to take Deenie to an orthopedist and eventually a physician specializing in scoliosis.

Without asking anyone, Deenie decides that she'll have surgery to correct her scoliosis as opposed to wearing a brace for four years. She tells all her friends, and they take her out for a special day and even buy her a nightgown to wear in the hospital. Then, the poor girl has to break the news to them that she's getting a brace.

Throughout this whole ordeal, Deenie's mother is terrible. Mrs. Fenner acts like the scoliosis is something that Deenie developed on purpose. Mrs. Fenner constantly cries and tries to convince the doctors that Deenie doesn't need a brace. It'll ruin her modeling career! Helen is dating an employee at the family's gas station, and it is suggested that Mrs. Fenner had him fired to keep him away from Helen. Because love will ruin Helen's academic career! Hello, control freak!

Deenie's feelings about her brace are certainly not helped by her mother's reaction. Her friends are doing their best to keep her spirits up, though. Deenie does make a new friend by wearing the brace--another rejected girl, Barbara, who suffers from eczema.

As the weeks pass, Deenie goes to a school dance (where the world's cutest boy, Buddy Brader,  tries to feel her up) and a party at a friend's house. For the party, Deenie plans not to wear her brace but her father tells her she'll just have to wear it longer. After sneaking an extra change of clothes to the party (so she'll have a set that fits without the brace underneath them), Deenie decides against changing. If her friends (and Buddy) don't like her with the brace, they're not worth it. She accepts that she needs the brace and that wearing it just like she's supposed to is the best thing she can do.


I remember reading this book when I was younger. There are a few things I missed, though:
  • I thought Deenie was sixteen or seventeen. Not thirteen.
    • Knowing that Deenie is thirteen, I think it's kind of weird that Buddy wants her to take the brace off so he can feel her up. Cause taking it off would involve removing her shirt. And they're thirteen. And that's just not how things go down where I come from.
  • Nine-year-old me didn't know what Deenie meant when she said she touched her "special place."
    • Nine-year-old me apparently didn't even pick up on what that meant after Deenie submitted an anonymous question about it to the gym teacher. And the gym teacher called it "masturbation."
  • This is one of the most frequently challenged books of the 1990's. I didn't realize that Juvenile Alison was such a rebel in her reading choices.
Musings Based on Reading This Book as an Adult-In-Training:
  • Does anyone else remember being checked for scoliosis in sixth through eighth grade? My school sent a letter home telling us to wear our bathing suit tops instead of a bra so we wouldn't be embarrassed. All the girls were taken into either an office or the locker room, had to pull our shirts up, and touch our toes. This was nerve wracking shit. For the week leading up to the check, we all had the best freaking posture you ever saw. Getting checked for scoliosis was worse than getting checked for lice. So. Much. Worse.
  • Deenie is fitted with a Milwaukee brace. Dedicated reader/blogger that I am, I Googled  that shiz. It is just as emotionally traumatic as Deenie promised.
  • Michelle of Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion wears a Milwaukee brace (or something very similar) in one of the flashbacks to high school. Some kids put giant fruit refrigerator magnets on her brace. Kind of like Pete and Pete did to their mom's skull plate.

  • Shortly after Deenie gets her brace, she gets her period. She has to ask Helen for help in getting a pad. This would be humiliating. But Helen is freakin' Sister of the Year and even offers to help Deenie to situate it. (Situate? I don't know pad related terminology. You know what I mean!)
  • Deenie's mom is a bit of a selfish bitch. All she cares about is Deenie's modeling career. Did she ever ask Deenie if she wanted to model? And what about ever telling Helen that she's beautiful too? If this book were set 30 years later, I have an inkling of how Mrs. Fenner would want Deenie to look.
Like a creepy-as-hell minion for Satan.
  • I freaking loved Helen. I wish we could have seen more of her. She loses her boyfriend because of her mother. She helps Deenie when she gets her brace. She gives Deenie her clothes to wear over the brace. In the end, she even stands up to Mrs. Fenner. Helen tells Mrs. Fenner that the girls are more than just a pretty face or a smart brain. I'm proud of her! Someone needed to tell that bee-yotch off! Tear!

8 comments:

  1. That's cause Judy Blume is an effing rockstar. Also, the masturbation bit flew right by me, too. When are concerned authority figures going to realize that happens all.the.time?

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  2. You never have to apologize for the Judy. I didn't remember the masturbation either! How is it that I can recall vivid details about wet dreams and sanitary belts, but remember nothing of Deenie's "special place"? I guess I was too overwhelmed by the trauma of the Milwaukee brace. Man, that thing looks scary.

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  3. This book made scoliosis my worst nightmare all through junior high. But then a friend of mine actually turned out to have scoliosis, and she just had to wear a thing in her shoe to push up one side of her spine. And then it wasn't scary anymore. Remember Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles? She wore one of those braces too.

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  4. It didn't go over mine. Let's just say I was an early bloomer. I definitely loved that Judy Blume made what we all did but were ashamed to admit a public thing. Go Judy!

    And wow, that brace is awful. I'm really grateful for passing those scoliosis tests.

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  5. Apologies if this goes through twice. I'm not seeing it.

    It didn't go over mine. Let's just say I was an early bloomer. I definitely loved that Judy Blume made what we all did but were ashamed to admit a public thing. Go Judy!

    And wow, that brace is awful. I'm really grateful for passing those scoliosis tests.

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  6. This book is a prime example of the parenting failure you see so often in Judy's books. Deenie's mom is up there with the worst of 'em.

    Also, I was first felt up at fourteen.....so thirteen doesn't seem too unusual to me.

    Oh and those scoliosis tests. Freaking terrifying.

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  7. Every time I hear/ read the word "scoliosis" I think about Romy and Michelle and Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles. I've never actually seen someone wearing one of those braces, though. I wonder if there's a reason why scoliosis was running rampant amongst 1970s/80s chicks.

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  8. oh. my. god.

    I had forgotten how terrifying the scoliosis tests actually were. Somehow it's been blocked from my mind. But you are so right, the whole week leading up to it, all the kids were so scared.

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