21 February 2019

Wifey by Judy Blume



I have a deep love for Judy Blume that has lasted basically my entire reading life, and this was the LAST book of hers that I'd yet to read. I got this for Christmas to complete my Blume library, and while it was fun to read, I wouldn't say it was my favourite, and I've been saying that a lot lately about her work. Nothing has ever come close to my love for Summer Sisters

Wifey is RAUNCHY. It's set somewhere in the 70's and it's about a bored, sexually frustrated housewife who's grown to hate her life. It takes place over the course of a summer when Sandy and Norman's two children are at summer camp. The boredom finally overcomes Sandy and she becomes sexually promiscuous. Parts of the book verge on being pornographic (without the graphics, of course), which doesn't bother me because I was reading Danielle Steel novels in eighth grade, but just an FYI to the more conservative folks out there. Blume wrote about the controversy of publishing this book in the late 70's in the foreword:

When Wifey was published, it caused an uproar. By then, I'd written and published thirteen books for young readers. Some people thought Wifey would end my career. Some congratulated me on having written a real book at last. Some were angry that I hadn't used a pseudonym, others that I even had such thoughts."

The book is told from Sandy's perspective, so it's very hard to have an objective view of her marriage, but from her lens, her husband Norman is unbearable. He's a misogynist asshole who wants Sandy to ditch all the friends he deems are bad influences and make friends with his friends' wives at their country club. He forces her to take golf and tennis lessons despite the fact that she hates sports, he gets angry with her when she dares switch up the cooking schedule, or if she orders take out too many nights in a row, and he's terrible in bed to top the whole thing off. There were multiple occasions I wanted to punch Norman in the face, and times I couldn't believe she was going to have sex with him after his behaviour. But it was the 70's- a different time. Sandy frequently repeats her mother's mantra in her head: "when they're in the mood, you're in the mood". Kill me.

Norman kissed her. He tasted like Colgate toothpaste. She hated Colgate. Question: Did she also hate Norman? Answer: Yes, sometimes."

The way Blume positions / writes about sex in this book is truly refreshing. Sandy essentially hates having sex with her husband. She feels unchallenged, unsatisfied and not entirely 'sexy', which I think is more prevalent the media makes it out to be. I'm super tired of watching shows/movies, or reading books where the main characters have mind blowing sex every time and climax in unison. Give me a break. It is a bit startling to read something so honest and blunt, because of how un-often we get to, but I did find it charming, funny and more interesting than all the Danielle Steel novels I filled my preteen brain with.

Judy Blume


Despite writing some relatable sex scenes, I feel like of all the adult Blume books I've read this has been the least relatable for me overall. I've never been as unhappy as Sandy. I really felt for her at some points because I really don't know what I'd do if I was so disappointed in my life/marriage. And while I love to read about a struggling marriage, Sandy and Norman's seemed so juvenile that I didn't even care if they worked it out or not. It seemed to me like they never really felt true love for each other.

So where did things go wrong, Norm? So what happened? It seemed all right then. Comfortable. Safe. We had our babies. We made a life together. But now I'm sick. You can't see it this time. There isn't any rash, no fever, but I'm sick inside. I sleepwalk through life. And I'm so fucking scared! Because every time I think about life without you I shake. I wish somebody would tell me what to do. Make the hurt go away. I wish a big bird would fly up to me, take me in its mouth and carry me off, dropping me far away... anywhere... but far from you. I want my life back! Before it's too late. Or is it already too late? Is this it, then? Is this what my life is all about? Driving the kids to and from school and decorating our final house? Oh, Mother, dammit! Why did you bring me up to think this was what I wanted? And now that I know it's not, what am I supposed to do about it?"

I think this would make an enjoyable read for most females. Sandy is a funny, likeable character that I feel we can all see a bit of ourselves in at certain points, but nobody is going to be blown away by this book. I think it would have been WAY more fun reading this in 1978, when it would have seemed incredibly risqué, but in today's world where we have HBO and 50 Shades of Grey, the content seemed a bit dated.

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