Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

By Judy Blume; Antheneum Books for Young Readers; 1970; pp. 149

Plot: Margaret Simon is almost 12.Her parents uproot her from New York City to Farbrook, New Jersey. Margaret suspects this relocation, in part, is to put some distance between the family and Margaret’s Jewish grandmother, who is very dear to Margaret but not so much to Margaret’s non-Jewish mother. Margaret wants to fit in and quickly joins a secret club with her new BFFs. The group calls itself the PTSs (preteen sensations). The members marvel over the fact that Margaret does not have a religion, and for the first time in her life Margaret finds this to be a sticking point, too. For instance, how does she know if she should join the YWCA or the Jewish Community Center when she doesn’t even know what she is? Margaret begins a hilarious soliloquy with God, in which she discusses her nebulous religious makeup and asks God to increase her bust and give her a period.

Genre: Fiction

Reading Level: Ages 10 and older

Review: Omigod! Judy Blume has captured the confusion, angst, social trials of being an 11-year-old girl. My library copy was worn thin and the pages torn from the hundreds, maybe thousands, or readers who read this book before I. This book is hysterical and real. Blume captured the voice of the budding and confused 11-year-old. Older readers will laugh as they remember their first training bra, first period, and first awkward kiss. Younger readers, obviously from the condition of my copy, still enjoy this book. The voice is conversational and 11-year-old Margaret’s talks with God are outrageous, for instance when she shares her impression of her first bra and then as she asks God to go easy on her when she pads the bra. This adorable 11-year-old’s conversations with the Supreme Being are laced with profound exploration of religion and identity. Although the book is 41 years old!, the themes hold up. The dialogue and setting of this book are decidedly white, considering today’s young multicultural readers, but the anxieties surrounding menarche prevail.

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