Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

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Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
First edition
AuthorJudy Blume
CountryUnited States
GenreYoung adult
PublisherBradbury Press
Publication date
Media typePrint
Pages149 pp
LC ClassMLCS 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 sixth-grade girl who has grown up without a religious affiliation, due to her parents' interfaith marriage. The novel explores her quest for a single religion, while confronting typical issues faced by early adolescent girls going through puberty, such as buying her first bra, having her first period, and feeling attracted to certain boys. The novel has been frequently challenged since the 1980s due to its frank discussions of sexual and religious topics.[1][2][3][4]


Judy Blume has said that the character of Margaret was inspired by her own experiences in sixth grade. Like Margaret, Blume did not physically mature at the same rate as her classmates, and tried exercises to get her bust to grow.[5] Like Margaret, Blume also had "a very personal relationship with God". However, Blume said that Margaret's family life grew from Blume's imagination, as her own family was very different from the one portrayed in the book.[6]


Margaret Simon is just eleven going on twelve when her family moves from New York City to Farbrook, New Jersey. Margaret's mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. Margaret has been raised without an affiliation to either faith, and does not practice an organized religion, although she frequently prays to God in her own words, beginning by saying, "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret." She is beginning to feel uncomfortable with her lack of a religious affiliation. For a school assignment, she chooses to study people's religious beliefs, hoping to resolve the question of her own religion in the process. Part of her study involves attending different places of worship to better understand religious practice and also to see if one of them might be right for her. She enjoys spending time with her Jewish paternal grandmother, Sylvia Simon, who loves her as she is, and hopes Margaret will embrace Judaism after taking her to her synagogue for Rosh Hashanah services.

Margaret befriends Nancy, a neighbor girl her own age who seems confident and knowledgeable about many subjects, including sex. Nancy, Margaret, and two other girls, Gretchen and Janie, form a secret club where they discuss subjects like boys, bras and periods. The girls anxiously await their first periods, prepare in advance by buying belted sanitary napkins (changed to adhesive pads in later editions of the book), and do exercises in hopes of increasing their bust measurements. Gretchen and Nancy begin to menstruate, causing Margaret to worry that she herself is abnormal for not having started yet. Margaret envies her classmate Laura Danker who, unlike herself, already has a womanly figure and, according to Nancy, is involved with a handsome older boy. Margaret is also attracted to a popular boy in her class named Philip Leroy and kisses him at a party while playing Two Minutes in the Closet (a game similar to Seven Minutes in Heaven). Over time, Margaret discovers that her seemingly confident friend Nancy has her own insecurities and doesn't always tell the truth (she had told Margaret she got her first period on a vacation before she really did later at a restaurant with her), which puts Margaret in several uncomfortable situations.

Margaret was planning to spend spring vacation in Florida with Sylvia, but her fundamentalist Christian maternal grandparents, Mary and Paul Hutchins, who have been estranged from her mother for 14 years due to their disapproval of interfaith marriage, suddenly decide to visit the day after Margaret leaves for Florida. Margaret's mother has her cancel her vacation, saying it's not the end of the world and she'll go to Florida another time. Margaret is devastated, but tries to use her best possible manners while her grandparents are visiting, but when her grandparents bring up the subject of religion, an argument occurs between everyone. Margaret explodes, saying she doesn't need religion and God. Afterward, Margaret stops talking to God. At the end of her study project, she has not been able to resolve her religious situation as she had hoped, but has learned about herself and become more comfortable with her lack of affiliation. On the last day of school, Margaret gets her first period. Relieved and happy, she resumes her previous relationship with God, saying, "I know you're there God. I know you wouldn't have missed this for anything! Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot…"

Main characters[edit]

  • Margaret Simon: The protagonist of the book. She is an only child going through puberty and beginning to notice boys, and she is uncertain of which religion she prefers to follow. The book ends with Margaret getting her period, as she is the third of her friends to get it.
  • Barbara Simon (née Hutchins): Margaret's Christian mother, who is a housewife and likes to paint.
  • Herbert Simon: Margaret's Jewish father, who is an insurance salesman.
  • Sylvia Simon: Herbert's mother and Margaret's paternal grandmother, who refers to her as "My Margaret." She wants Margaret to embrace Judaism.
  • Nancy Wheeler: Margaret's neighbor and her first new friend in Farbrook, New Jersey. She is the second of the four to get her period.
  • Gretchen Potter: A friend of Nancy's whose father is a doctor, and who is a member of the Four PTS's. She is the first of the four to get her period.
  • Janie Loomis: Another girl in the Four PTS's with Nancy, Gretchen, and Margaret. She is the last of the four to get her period.
  • Evan Wheeler: Nancy's older brother.
  • Moose Freed: Evan's friend, who cuts the Simon Family's lawn.
  • Miles J. Benedict.: Margaret's sixth-grade teacher, who is in his first teaching job.
  • Laura Danker: A classmate of Margaret's who is tall and very developed for her age.
  • Phillip Leroy: A classmate of Margaret's whom she initially likes.
  • Mary and Paul Hutchins: Margaret's fundamentalist Christian grandparents, who disowned her mother for interfaith marriage. They want Margaret to embrace Christianity.


In 2010, the book was placed on Time's list of the top 100 fiction books written in English since 1923. The magazine wrote, "Blume turned millions of pre-teens into readers. She did it by asking the right questions—and avoiding pat, easy answers."[7]


Starting in the 1980s, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret became a frequent target of challenges, often due to its discussions of sex or allegations that it contained profane or anti-Christian material.[1][3] On the American Library Association (ALA) list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 1990s, the book was number 60,[8] and on the ALA's list for the 2000s, it ranked at 99.[9]

Subsequent book[edit]

Blume's success with Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret inspired her to write another book, Then Again, Maybe I Won't, 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.

Film adaptation[edit]

In October 2018, it was announced that a film adaptation of the book was in early stages of development. The Edge of Seventeen's James L. Brooks and Kelly Fremon Craig will produce the film, with Fremon Craig writing and directing the project. Gracie Films will produce the film.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret". Half Price Books. 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  2. ^ "Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 2016-09-05. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  3. ^ a b Blume, Judy. "Judy Blume on the Web: Judy Blume Talks About Censorship". Judy Blume. Archived from the original on 2013-12-01. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  4. ^ Knox, Emily J.M. (2015). Book Banning in 21st-Century America. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. vii. ISBN 9781442231689.
  5. ^ {{citation needed}}
  6. ^ Blume, Judy. "Judy Blume on the Web: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret". Judy Blume. Archived from the original on 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  7. ^ Grossman, Lev (6 January 2010). "All Time 100 Novels". Time Magazine. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  8. ^ "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990–1999". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 2016-11-13. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  9. ^ "Top 100 Banned/ Challenged Books: 2000-2009". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 2016-12-13. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  10. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (October 17, 2018). "Judy Blume Grants 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' Screen Rights To James L. Brooks & Kelly Fremon Craig". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 18, 2018.

External links[edit]