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 has grown 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 pads for more recent editions of the book), envy toward another girl who has developed a womanly figure, liking boys, and whether to voice her opinions if they differ from those of her friends.
The main conflict in the novel comes from Margaret's need to settle her mixed religious heritage. She frequently begins praying by saying the title: "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 finds out a lot about herself as well.
Margaret also deals with conflict with her grandparents on both sides of her family. Her maternal grandparents try to guarantee that she is Christian. Margaret enjoys spending time with her paternal grandmother, who seems to accept her for who she is and is more tolerant of her son's interfaith marriage, although she refers to Margaret as "my Jewish girl" and introduces her to synagogue services for the purpose of showing her what the Jewish faith entails. When her Jewish grandmother tells Margaret to remember that she is a Jewish girl, Margaret 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 and finds her way to the confessional. 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—Margaret 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: The protagonist of the book. She is 12 years old and an only child. She is starting puberty and beginning to notice boys, and she is 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 (Herbert's mother). She refers to Margaret as "my Margaret" or her "Jewish girl". She wants to convert Margaret to Judaism.
- Nancy Wheeler: Margaret's neighbor and her first new friend in Farbrook, New Jersey.
- Gretchen Potter: A friend of Nancy's whose father is a doctor, and who is a member of the Four PTS's.
- 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, whom Margaret takes a great interest in.
- Miles J. Benedict Jr.: Margaret's sixth-grade teacher, who is in his first year in the 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: Barbara's estranged parents, who all but disowned her for marrying outside her religion.
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."
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.
- Grossman, Lev (6 January 2010). "All Time 100 Novels". Time Magazine. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- Judy Blume's website
- Works by or about Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. in libraries (WorldCat catalog)