Name of Book: Here’s To You, Rachel Robinson
By: Judy Blume
Publisher: Orchard Books
Copyright Date: 1993
Number of Pages: 196
Format: middle grade fiction
Reason for Reading: Judy Blume Challenge
We first met Rachel Robinson in Just As Long As We’re Together, which chronicled the ups and downs of Stephanie Hirsh’s life. Now we are given a first-hand look at what is going on behind the scenes in the Robinson household. Rachel Robinson is an extraordinarily smart and talented thirteen year-old. She is in all the smart classes, plays the flute, is on the debate team, and will be attending college classes next summer as part of a special program at school. Simply put, Rachel has a LOT on her plate. Add to that her troubled home life and it’s no wonder Rachel is an excessive worrier, constantly riddled with anxiety, and obsessively reads Psychology Today.
Just As Long As We’re Together was my favorite Blume book as a youngster. I read it and re-read it so many times. I identified deeply with all of the characters. Like Stephanie, my parents were split up. She is struggling with the splitting up. I was struggling with living with my mom in a different state from my dad. I missed my dad sorely. Like Alison, I was quirky and unusual, even as a child. Like Rachel, I was bright and ahead of the class. I loved my frequent revisits with them, reveling in the strong bond of friendship that existed among the three of them. However, I never did get around to reading the sequel, so I used the Judy Blume challenge as my opportunity to finally dig in.
Blume is spot on as ever with the middle grade voice. She hits the perfect pitch of melodrama without being melodramatic. Reading Rachel’s account of her life brought me right back to middle school angst where the smallest things can seem so important and life overall feels overwhelming and confusing. This story focuses mainly on Rachel’s family life. Stephanie and Allison seem to be more on the periphery; however, I think this could be due to Rachel’s isolationist tendencies. From Stephanie’s perspective Rachel is smart and beautiful with the perfect life. Of course no one’s life is perfect so it was really enjoyable to get to see things from Rachel’s side.