Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
|LC Class||MLCS 2006/13809 (P)|
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is a 1970 book by Judy Blume, typically categorized as a young adult novel, about a girl in sixth grade who grew up without a religious affiliation. Margaret's mother is Christian and her father is Jewish, and the novel explores her quest for a single religion. Margaret also confronts many other pre-teen female issues, such as buying her first bra, having her first period, coping with belted sanitary napkins (changed to adhesive sanitary pads for recent editions of the book), jealousy towards another girl who has developed a womanly figure earlier than other girls, liking boys, and whether to voice her opinion if it differs from those of her friends.
The main conflict in the novel comes from Margaret's need to settle her mixed religious heritage. She deals with her issues of belief in God, as the story is frequently interlaced with her praying by beginning with the title's words "Are You there, God? it's me, Margaret." In school, she is assigned a year-long independent study project; she chooses a study on people's beliefs, which proves to be more than she can handle as she is finding out a lot about herself as well. She also is dealing with conflict between her grandparents on both sides of her family, as her maternal grandparents are trying to guarantee that she is indeed Christian as she was born with a Christian mother. Margaret enjoys spending time with her paternal grandmother, who seems to accept her for who she is and is more accepting of her son's interfaith marriage, although she has referred to Margaret as "my Jewish girl" and introduced her to synagogue services for the purpose of showing her granddaughter what the Jewish faith entails, while her Christian grandparents claim her as a Christian. When her Jewish grandmother tells Margaret to remember that she's a Jewish girl, Margaret denies this and claims not to believe in God, which angers her grandmother. The ambiguities of her interfaith identity are particularly highlighted in a scene — following a heated argument with another girl — in which Margaret visits a church, finding her way to the confessional booth; there the unseen priest inquires as to her problems, but — believing at first that the priest is God Himself speaking to her and not comprehending the concept of Christian confession or its confidential nature — she simply responds "I am sorry," before running out of the church in tears.
|“||Are you still there God? It's me, Margaret. I know you're there God. I know you wouldn't have missed this for anything! Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot...||”|
Margaret moves from New York to the New Jersey suburbs, where she encounters Nancy, who leads her into a club where they talk about boys, bras, and periods. She becomes attracted to Phillip Leroy, a boy at school, and kisses him at a party while playing Two Minutes in the Closet (see Seven Minutes in Heaven)
- Margaret Simon – Protagonist of the book. She is 12 years old, an only child, and is starting the 6th grade. She's just starting puberty and noticing boys, plus she's uncertain of which religion she prefers to follow.
- Barbara Simon (Hutchins) – Margaret's stay-at-home mother, who is Christian.
- Herbert Simon – Margaret's father, an insurance salesman, who is Jewish.
- Sylvia Simon – Margaret's grandmother and Herbert's mother. She refers to Margaret as "my Margaret" or her "Jewish girl". She is trying to convert Margaret to Judaism.
- Nancy Wheeler – Margaret's neighbor and her first new friend in Farbrook, NJ.
- Gretchen Potter – A friend of Nancy whose father is a doctor, and is a member of the Four PTS's.
- Janie Loomis – Another girl in the Four PTS's with Nancy, Gretchen, and Margaret. She inevitably is the last of the four to get her period.
- Evan Wheeler – Nancy's older brother.
- Moose Freed – Evan's friend and a boy Margaret takes a great interest in.
- Miles J. Benedict Jr. – Margaret's sixth grade teacher who is in his first year as a teacher.
- Laura Danker – A classmate of Margaret's who is tall and very developed for her age.
- Phillip Leroy – A classmate of Margaret whom she initially likes.
- Mary and Paul Hutchins – Barbara's estranged parents, who all but disowned her for marrying outside her religion.
In 2010, the book was placed on Time's top 100 fiction books written in English since 1923 - ″Blume turned millions of pre-teens into readers. She did it by asking the right questions—and avoiding pat, easy answers.″.
Blume's success with Are You There God? It's Me Margaret inspired her to write another book, Then Again, Maybe I Won't, which is slightly like this book, but from a boy's perspective. This novel deals with Tony Miglione, a boy of the same age as Margaret who is dealing with puberty as well, although his transition from childhood to adulthood is quite different from Margaret's.
In popular culture
- Chuck Palahniuk's novels Damned and Doomed seem to invert and pervert this book's ideals by introducing each chapter with the line, "Are you there Satan? It's me, Madison."
- In the sixteenth episode of Lost's second season, Sawyer is seen reading the book.
- In Supernatural's fourth season, the second episode is called "Are You There God? It's Me, Dean Winchester" in homage.
- In 2007, Chelsea Handler published a book titled Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.
- The book is referenced during the riffing in several Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes.
- In the Popular (TV series) the ninth episode of the second season is entitled "Are You There God? It's Me, Ann-Margret"
- Judy Blume's website
- Works by or about Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Grossman, Lev (6 January 2010). "All Time 100 Novels". Time Magazine. Retrieved 21 January 2015.