In the Unlikely Event Summary & Study Guide

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In the Unlikely Event Summary & Study Guide Description

In the Unlikely Event Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

“In the Unlikely Event” is a 2015 historical novel by Judy Blume which recounts three airline crashes in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the winter of 1951-52, and the effect they had on the people living in the town. When the novel begins, the citizens of Elizabeth go about their lives normally. Christmas is coming, while Hanukah is underway. Miri buys her mother, Rusty, a half-slip while Ruby Granik, a dancer who is becoming famous, prepares to head to Miami for a show. Miri’s best friend Natalie Osner prepares for her birthday, while Natalie’s older brother Steve is expected to chaperone. Estelle Sapphire orders some compacts from Miri’s grandmother, a saleswoman, and tells her husband Ben to pick up her order.

As Miri and Rusty head out to a movie, the plane carrying Ruby crashes into the river, killing all on board. The people of Elizabeth are stunned. It is a tragedy unlike any other they have ever experienced. People react in different ways. Miri’s uncle, Henry, writes stories about the event for the newspaper. Natalie tells Miri she is hearing the voice of Ruby in her head, urging her to become a singer. Reading about Ruby in the papers, 18-year-old Christina realizes how short life is, and how important living one’s own life is. This will later help inspire her to date Jack – a boy who is not Greek, and who therefore does not meet with her mother’s approval. Miri’s Aunt Frekki, sister of her Miri’s who left while Rusty was still pregnant, suddenly shows up wanting to connect with Miri. Miri ultimately meets her father, but no real familial relationship ever develops. Miri begins dating a boy named Mason.

Steve, a senior in high school, begins dating Kathy, a freshman in college at Syracuse. Kathy flies home for break after exams in January. Her flight becomes the second plane to crash in Elizabeth, destroying an entire block and killing several residents. Steve is sickened and heartbroken, and finds comfort in J. D. Salinger’s book “Catcher in the Rye”. Steve ultimately enlists in the Army against the wishes of his parents. Natalie continues to hear the voice of Ruby in her head, urging her to pursue a career in dance. Natalie loses weight, which worries Miri.

Gaby Wenders, in her early twenties, is a stewardess for National Airlines. She is on board the third plane to crash in Elizabeth, and is among the thirty-eight survivors (two of whom later die). She is rescued by Mason. Natalie’s health continues to deteriorate. Miri and Natalie grow apart as Natalie focuses on dance, insisting it is Ruby’s doing, and as Miri spends more time with Mason. Natalie’s parents disagree on putting her into a rest home, and their marriage falls apart. Natalie’s father ends up seeing and marrying Rusty. Natalie, after a rest home stay, recovers to some degree, though her friendship with Miri does not. Natalie’s father moves his entire dental practice to Las Vegas, where Rusty and Miri move. Miri breaks up with Mason when she learns Mason has been cheating on her.

Thirty-five years later, most of the people alive during the time of the 51-52 crashes return for a memorial ceremony. Gaby dedicates a plaque to Elizabeth for the city’s resilience and heroism in the face of disaster. Miri is now married with children, as is Mason – but they are glad to see each other and let go of the past. Christina has married Jack, while Steve died fighting in Korea decades before. Rusty is caring for Natalie’s dying father, and Natalie and her father finally make up and apologize to one another. Miri ultimately decides to write a book about the airline crashes.

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