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

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Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
AreYouThereGod.jpg
First edition
AuthorJudy Blume
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreContemporary realistic, coming-of-age
PublisherBradbury Press
Publication date
1970
Media typePrint
Pages149
ISBN978-0-13-045856-8
LC ClassMLCS 2006/13809 (P)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a middle-grade novel by American writer Judy Blume, first published in 1970. Its protagonist, Margaret Simon, is a sixth-grader who grows up without a religious affiliation because of her parents' interfaith marriage. This contemporary realistic novel was popular with middle-grade readers in the 1970s for its relatable portrayal of a young girl confronting early-adolescent anxieties, such as menstruation, bras and boys.[1][2] The recipient of national honors and book awards, the novel has been challenged for its frank discussion of sexual and religious topics.[3][4][5]

Background[edit]

Blume said that she felt a connection with the character Margaret, which allowed the story to come "pouring out". Blume wrote that while the story was not autobiographical, "the character of Margaret, both physically and emotionally, is pretty close to the girl I was."[6] Growing up, Blume said while her family was very different from the one portrayed in the book, she felt that, "like Margaret, I had a very personal relationship with God that had little to do with organized religion."[7][8]

Plot[edit]

When she is 11 years old, Margaret Simon's family moved from New York City to the New Jersey suburbs. Her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish, but Margaret was raised without an affiliation to either faith. She frequently prays to God, beginning her prayers with, "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret."

Margaret feels uncomfortable with her lack of religious affiliation. For a school assignment, she studies religious beliefs, hoping to resolve her faith-based issues. Her study includes attending different places of worship to learn about religious practices. Her Jewish grandmother, Sylvia Simon, takes Margaret to Rosh Hashanah services and hopes her granddaughter will embrace Judaism.

Margaret befriends Nancy, a neighbor who is the same age. Nancy seems confident and knowledgeable about many subjects, including sex. Nancy, Margaret, and their friends Gretchen and Janie form a secret club called the Pre-Teen Sensations. The Pre-Teen Sensations discuss boys, bras, and menstruation. The girls anxiously await their first period, preparing by buying belted sanitary napkins (changed to adhesive pads in later editions of the book).[9] They also do exercises to increase their bust sizes: "I must-I must-I must increase my bust!"

Gretchen has her first period, which causes Margaret to worry that she is abnormal because she has not started menstruating. Margaret envies her classmate, Laura Danker, who started menstruating and wears a bra. According to Nancy, Laura dates an older boy. The Pre-Teen Sensations gossip about Laura letting boys touch her breasts. Margaret feels guilty when she learns that Laura is a devout Catholic and is hurt by the rumors. Margaret is attracted to a popular boy in her class named Philip Leroy. They kiss while playing "two minutes in the closet" during a party. Nancy lies to the Pre-Teen Sensations that she had her first period when away on vacation. Margaret discovers the truth when Nancy gets her actual first period while at a restaurant with Margaret.

Margaret's family plans to spend the spring vacation with Sylvia in Florida. The day before the family's vacation, Margaret's conservative Christian grandparents, Mary and Paul Hutchins, visit. Because they disapprove of their daughter's interfaith marriage, Mary and Paul have been estranged from Margaret's mother for fourteen years. Margaret's mother cancels the Florida vacation, saying that "it's not the end of the world" and that they can always go to Florida another time. Margaret is upset but tries to be polite to her grandparents. When her grandparents mention religion, an argument begins. Margaret explodes, declaring that she does not need religion or God.

After the confrontation with her grandparents, Margaret stops talking to God. By the end of her school project, she still has not resolved her religious identity. However, she has learned about herself and has become more comfortable with her lack of affiliation. On the last day of school, Margaret gets her first period. Relieved, she resumes her 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 eleven-year-old protagonist
  • Barbara Simon (née Hutchins) – Margaret's mother
  • Herbert Simon – Margaret's father
  • Sylvia Simon – Margaret's Jewish paternal grandmother
  • Nancy Wheeler – Margaret's neighbor and first friend in New Jersey, a member of the Pre-Teen Sensations.
  • Gretchen Potter – Margaret's friend and the first member of the Pre-Teen Sensations to get her period
  • Janie Loomis – Margaret's friend and a member of the Pre-Teen Sensations
  • Evan Wheeler – Nancy's older brother
  • Moose Freed – Evan's friend who cuts the Simon family's lawn and Margaret's crush
  • Miles J. Benedict – Margaret's sixth-grade teacher
  • Laura Danker – a classmate of Margaret's who is tall and developed for her age
  • Philip Leroy – a classmate of Margaret's whom she initially likes
  • Mary and Paul Hutchins – Margaret's conservative Christian maternal grandparents

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1970, The New York Times selected Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret as the Outstanding Book of the Year.[10]

In 2010, Time included Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret in its All-Time 100 Novels 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."[11]

Scholastic selected the novel for its 100 Greatest Books for Kids/100 Must-Read Books.[12]

Censorship[edit]

Beginning in the 1970s, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret has been frequently challenged because of its frank talk about menstruation and its depiction of a child being allowed to decide for herself what religion she would prefer to adhere to.[2][4] The American Library Association's (ALA) list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 1990s ranked the book at number sixty.[13] The novel ranked 99 on ALA's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 2000s.[14] The book dropped from the ALA list for 2010 through 2020.[15]

Subsequent book[edit]

Blume's success with Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret inspired her to write Then Again, Maybe I Won't, a novel focused on similar themes from a boy's perspective. The narrator of Then Again, Maybe I Won't is Tony Miglione, an eleven-year-old boy who is also dealing with puberty.

Popular culture[edit]

Film adaptation[edit]

In October 2018, a film adaptation of the book was in the early stages of development by James L. Brooks and Kelly Fremon Craig.[29] In 2020, Lionsgate won the rights to adapt the film at auction, allocating it a budget of $30 million.[30][31] In April 2021, Lionsgate started filming in Charlotte, North Carolina.[32][33][34] Production concluded on July 1, 2021.[35][36] Judy Blume was one of the film's producers.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Book Review | Common Sense Media". www.commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret: Why was it banned?". Books on Trial. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  3. ^ "Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century". ALA.org. American Library Association. March 26, 2013. Archived from the original on September 5, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Blume, Judy. "Judy Blume on the Web: Judy Blume Talks About Censorship". judyblume.com. Judy Blume. Archived from the original on December 1, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  5. ^ Knox, Emily J.M. (2015). Book Banning in 21st-Century America. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. vii. ISBN 9781442231689.
  6. ^ "Judy Blume on the 50th Anniversary of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret". Books & Books. January 7, 2021. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret – Judy Blume on the Web". Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  8. ^ Blume, Judy. "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret". Judy Blume on the Web. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "11 Facts About Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret". Mental Floss. March 18, 2021. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  10. ^ Van Evra, Jennifer (July 30, 2020). "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret at 50: author Judy Blume on the taboo-busting teen book". CBC Radio. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  11. ^ Grossman, Lev (January 6, 2010). "All Time 100 Novels". Time. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  12. ^ "Parent & Child 100 Greatest Books for Kids" (PDF). Scholastic. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  13. ^ "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990–1999". ALA.org. American Library Association. Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Banned/ Challenged Books: 2000-2009". ALA.org. American Library Association. March 26, 2013. Archived from the original on December 13, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books: 2010-2019". Banned & Challenged Books. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Are You There Satan? It's Me, Madison". Heights Libraries. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  17. ^ Orr, Christopher (September 17, 2021). "'Ted Lasso' Recap, Season 2 Episode 9: Beard Has a Late Night". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  18. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (September 17, 2021). "'Ted Lasso' Recap: Beard's Dark Night of the Soul". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  19. ^ Koenigsberger, Kurt M. (2003). Alberti, John (ed.). Leaving Springfield: the Simpsons and the possibility of oppositional culture. Wayne State University Press, pp. 49, 55. ISBN 0-8143-2849-0.
  20. ^ "Did you catch these "Deadpool" Easter eggs and references?". the CHIVE. February 17, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  21. ^ "Are You There God? It's Me, Jesus | S3E16 | Southpark-online.nl". southpark-online.nl. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  22. ^ "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean". Metacritic. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  23. ^ a b Ettenhofer, Valerie (April 28, 2022). "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Footage Reaction: A Welcome Return To The Awkwardness Of Sixth Grade [CinemaCon 2022]". SlashFilm.com. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  24. ^ McGovern, Jeanne. "Book review: 'Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea'". www.vaildaily.com. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  25. ^ "Are You There God? It's Me, Ellen: Compelling case for young critical progressives to make Catholicism a broad church". independent. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  26. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (May 21, 2018). "Family Guy: "Are You There God? It's Me, Peter" Review". IGN. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  27. ^ Doux, Billie. "Supernatural: Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester". Doux Reviews. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  28. ^ Twenter, Paige (February 2, 2022). "ReRuns: The Genius of 'Bob's Burgers'". Loyola Phoenix. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret Is Finally Getting the Hollywood Treatment". Parents. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  31. ^ Walsh, Savannah (March 3, 2020). "All About the 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' Movie". ELLE. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  32. ^ Muccigrosso, Catherine (April 2, 2021). "Production of star-studded movie begins in Charlotte as NC film production heats up". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  33. ^ 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' Movie Finds Its Margaret In 'Ant-Man's Abby Ryder Fortson; Rachel McAdams Also Set
  34. ^ "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" Kids Casting Call
  35. ^ Grobar, Matt (July 1, 2021). "'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret': Lionsgate Wraps Production On Feature Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  36. ^ "'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret': Lionsgate Wraps Production on Feature Adaptation". July 2021.

External links[edit]