Quiet contemplation

Last night I started re-reading Judy Blume’s Deenie. When I turned 50, I bought myself box sets of books I’d enjoyed as a child with the intention of re-visiting them as an adult. Although I have re-read Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time trilogy, I haven’t yet revisited the Walter Farley, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Marguerite Henry books I bought myself. Like a well-stocked wine cellar, my brimming bookshelves are full of pleasures I intend to savor someday, eventually.

This summer, I’ve decided, is time to revisit Judy Blume. I reread Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in advance of seeing the movie adaptation several weeks ago, so now is the perfect time to reread the other books in her box set.

One of the humbling aspects of re-reading childhood favorites as an adult is realizing how much you’ve forgotten. When I started re-reading Deenie last night, I realized I’d entirely forgotten the tension between Deenie and her mother, who wants her to become a model. All I remembered about the book was that Deenie is diagnosed with scoliosis and has to wear a back brace to straighten her curved spine.

It’s not surprising I’d remember that detail, since I was diagnosed with a mild case of scoliosis before reading the book. Although I never had to wear a brace or undergo any kind of treatment, I was amazed to encounter a book that spoke frankly about a condition I’d never heard of until I was diagnosed with it.

As I’m starting to re-read Deenie, I’m realizing a lesson that was too profound for my adolescent self. Sometimes life, like a malformed spine, curves in ways you hadn’t anticipated. When multiple modeling scouts mention Deenie’s poor posture, she and her mother have no idea there is a medical reason for her slouch. The first time I read the book, I fixated on the back brace Deenie had to wear; I didn’t realize then there are other ways life can curve in surprising ways.