Then Again, Maybe I Won't
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|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.B6265 Th|
Then Again, Maybe I Won't is a young adult novel written by Judy Blume. Intended for pre-teens and teenagers, the novel deals with puberty from a male perspective as well as the other trials of growing up. Judy Blume claimed that she was inspired to write the story following the success of her preceding novel Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Given her earlier novel was about a girl entering puberty making the transition to womanhood, she decided to write one about a boy going through puberty and making a transition to manhood.
Tony Miglione lives with his family in a middle-class neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey. After his brother announces his wife is pregnant and the family is struggling, Tony's father, an electrician, devotes more work to inventing in order to help out. The invention succeeds beyond their wildest expectations, as Tony's dad sells his patent to an electronics corporation and is made a partner, giving the family a huge increase in wealth. With this new money, the Miglione family relocates to an upper-class community in Rosemont, New York, where Tony meets a seemingly-polite and respectful neighborhood boy, Joel Hoober. While Joel's clean-cut mannerisms impress Mr. and Mrs. Miglione, Tony sees Joel's true colors in private. Guilty of crimes like prank calls, underage drinking, and shoplifting, Joel encourages Tony to participate as well. Such behavior from his new friend has a psychological and physical effect on Tony: Tony starts to experience inexplicable abdominal pain brought on by his nervousness at Joel's antics.
In the meantime, Tony develops an infatuation with Joel's beautiful teenage sister Lisa, motivating him to take up spying on her through the window as she undresses. He simultaneously handles the same changes undergone by his family's adaptation to their new lifestyle, as his mother has adopted social-climbing behavior, and his brother's wife gives birth to a baby girl nicknamed Vickie, and she soon reveals a new pregnancy. His elder brother, once a well-respected junior high teacher in Jersey City, has given up education in order to work with the father making electrical cartridges. This builds resentment in Tony as he feels his brother is going down the same "nouveau riche" attitude as the rest of his family.
Another aspect of his family's change is that Tony also lives with his maternal grandmother, who was known for her love of the Roman Catholic Church and cooking for the family. After the Migliones hire a maid, the maid takes advantage of the Migliones' inexperience with the upper class by directing the job to her way, and saying she must do the cooking. Grandma, in a rage, exiles herself to her room and barricades herself inside, no longer doing anything she enjoys. Tony is angry at this turn of events as well, but is accused of backtalk when he tries to voice his concerns to his mother.
Tony also becomes acquainted with a girl named Corky, who exhibits slight unrequited romantic feelings toward him, and he is enrolled in therapy after Joel's temptations have caused him to faint, as he fears for his friend's tendencies and negative influence.
While out shopping with Joel for school supplies, Tony sees him steal a few pens. As they walk out of the store, Tony's abdominal distress hits him very hard and he faints on the sidewalk. He wakes in the hospital where he spends ten days undergoing a battery of tests. His tests all turn out to be negative and Tony is released, still nervous at the thought of facing Joel. However his parents, particularly his father, decide to have Tony meet with a psychiatrist. Tony takes very well to the idea and finds that his therapy sessions with the doctor help him greatly: he is able to discuss his problems confidentially, the doctor suggests several ways Tony can overcome his fear and anxiety and helps Tony deal with the onset of his adolescence.
Eventually, Tony overcomes his infatuation with Lisa after learning of her relationship with another boy, and ends his friendship with Joel after he is caught snatching golf balls—Tony refuses to stand up for Joel when the store's security stops them. As the two boys agree to separate, Joel reveals that he'd not implicated Tony in the theft and also tells of his father's intentions to enlist him in a military academy, and that all along his motivation for his behavior was the convenience of his parents' constant preoccupation and lack of time for him. The final chapter has Tony bicycling by himself and thinking about how soon his home will have a swimming pool, and on a larger scale his family's change. Now that he is more at ease with himself, he has curtailed his spying on Lisa, although when he debates with himself whether he should give it up for good he remarks "then again, maybe I won't".
- Anthony (Tony) Miglione — Protagonist of the book who is 13 years old, the youngest of three boys.
- Victor (Vic) Miglione — Tony's father, who is a freelance electrician and an inventor whose invention changes their life.
- Carmella Miglione — Tony's mother, who eventually goes by the name Carol, much to Tony's dismay.
- Ralph Miglione — Tony's older brother who is a teacher at his middle school in Jersey City, NJ, but goes into the family business with his dad, which angers Tony to no end.
- Grandma — Carmella's mom, who cannot speak after having her larynx removed due to cancer. She loves to cook, but was no longer permitted to do so after hiring their housekeeper, so she spends every day in her bedroom watching TV, depressed.
- Vincent (Vinnie) Miglione — Tony's deceased older brother. He died in Vietnam a few years before the story takes place.
- Angie Miglione — Tony's sister-in-law, and Ralph's wife.
- Vincenza (Vickie) Miglione — Tony's niece, and Angie and Ralph's daughter. She was named after Vinnie.
- Joel Hoober — Tony's new friend in Rosemont. He's a practical joker and a shoplifter.
- Marty Endo — Another one of Tony’s new friends.
- Scott Gold — Another new friend of Tony’s.
- Lisa Hoober — Joel's attractive 16-year-old sister, who Tony develops a crush on, and spies on her through his window with binoculars
- Kathryn (Corky) Thomas — A girl Tony’s age who likes him, but he pays her little attention.
- J.W. Fullerbach — Vic's new boss and partner.
- Frankie Bollino — Tony’s best friend from Jersey City who comes to visit him.
- Dr. Fogel — Tony's psychiatrist.
- Maxine — Housekeeper to the Migliones who directs the house her way and won't let Tony's grandmother cook anymore.
- Millicent - Housekeeper to the Hoobers who seems to be the only one who is aware of Joel's antics because one night when Tony is at Joel's house she catches them in Lisa's room.
While this novel is similar to aspects of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, it differs mainly in the secondary themes. While Margaret struggled with her issues of religion and being raised in an interfaith family, Tony Miglione struggles with the issues of his family's social status and to a lesser extent, American society. A similarity of both stories, aside from the physical maturity of both characters, is that Tony develops a crush on the eldest daughter of his next door neighbors, just as Margaret had feelings for her neighbor's friend. However, Tony also has to deal with the fact that she is three years older than he is, and that if such a crush developed further the age difference would be uncommon among guys he knows. Both stories also dealt with moving from an urban area to the suburbs, but the reason behind the move for Tony's family is his father's success with his invention and desire to move to a wealthier community.
Themes dealt with include the effects on Tony of losing the working-class life he had been used to in his Italian-American neighborhood in Jersey City, and being ill at ease in his new upper-class community. In addition, Tony's grandmother has been marginalized, as she loved to cook for the family in Jersey City and was told that this would be inappropriate in their new home. She confines herself to her room after the Migliones hire Maxine, a maid who takes advantage of the family's inexperience with their new lifestyle, and essentially directs the household to her taste instead of taking orders from the family.
The penultimate chapter in the book deals with the consequences of Joel's immoral actions. Tony and Joel are at a sporting goods store where the employees successfully catch Joel shoplifting golf balls and Tony refuses to aid Joel in lying. Tony anticipates that his parents will learn for themselves of Joel's true nature when they read tomorrow's newspaper and see Joel will be remanded to the juvenile facility, but is surprised when he learns the owner of the sporting goods store declines to press charges against Joel for shoplifting. Joel's father then decides to enroll Joel in a military academy, which he believes will cure Joel of his "I will do what I want, when I want" attitude and deprive him of his pampered lifestyle at the Hoober home.
The time frame of this story is evidently the late 1960s or early 1970s, as Tony's eldest brother, Vinnie, has been killed in action in the Vietnam War. Initially set in Jersey City, New Jersey, the family eventually moves to Rosemont, New York on Long Island. Other themes touched upon are how Tony's family seems to be knowingly and willingly distancing themselves from their Italian heritage as not many Italian-Americans live in Rosemont (evidence of this is shown when Tony's mother allows herself to be called "Carol" by Mrs. Hoober instead of Carmella, her true name). Another theme is how Tony's family is keeping up with the Joneses by emulating their next door neighbors, the Hoobers (although Tony's mother is clearly more concerned with social image than his father). Mr. Hoober is vice president of a pharmaceutical company and is apparently extremely well compensated, which gives his wife the chance to spend her days playing golf and socializing. The Hoobers are representative of the "high-powered American family" and seem to believe the "American way" is about money, affluent living, social status and not much else. As a result, they do not seem to give much attention to the trouble-making son Joel, who has the idea he can get away with anything because nobody is watching over him or enforcing discipline.