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
GenreYoung adult
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 young adult novel, published in 1970 by Judy Blume. It follows a sixth-grade girl who grows up without a religious affiliation due to her parents' interfaith marriage. The novel explores her quest in search of a single religion while confronting typical issues faced by early adolescent girls, such as going through puberty, buying her first bra, having her first period and experiencing both romantic and sexual attraction. The novel has been frequently challenged since its publication for its frank discussion of sexual and religious topics.[1][2][3][4]

Background[edit]

Blume, in 2020, explained how the book reflected her personal life: "The story isn't autobiographical but the character of Margaret, both physically and emotionally, is pretty close to the girl I was."[5] Growing up, Blume had "a very personal relationship with God." However, Blume said that Margaret's family life was imagined, as her own family was very different from the one portrayed in the book.[6]

Plot[edit]

Margaret Simon is eleven years old when her family moves from New York City to Farbrook, New Jersey. Her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. Margaret was raised without an affiliation to either faith, but she frequently prays to God. The start of her prayer always begins with, "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret." She begins to feel uncomfortable with her lack of religious affiliation. For a school assignment, she chooses to study people's religious beliefs in the hopes of resolving her own faith-based issues in the process. Part of her study includes attending different places of worship to better understand the practices of several different religions and explore whether any of them might be right for her. She enjoys spending time with her Jewish paternal grandmother, Sylvia Simon, who hopes that Margaret will embrace Judaism after she takes her to her synagogue for Rosh Hashanah services.

Margaret befriends Nancy, a friend and neighbor who is the same age. Nancy seems confident and knowledgeable discussing many subjects, including sex. Nancy, Margaret, and two other girls, Gretchen and Janie, form a secret club called the "Four PTS's", where they discuss subjects like boys, bras and menstruation. The girls anxiously await their first period, preparing in advance by buying belted sanitary napkins (which were changed to adhesive pads in later editions of the book) and doing exercises to increase their bust sizes. Gretchen and Nancy have their first periods, which causes Margaret to worry that she is abnormal because she hasn't had hers yet.

Margaret envies her classmate, Laura Danker, who has already had her first period. According to Nancy, Laura is involved with a handsome older boy. Margaret and her friends gossip about Laura letting boys touch her, but Margaret later regrets this after she learns that Laura is a devout Catholic and is upset by the rumors. Margaret is attracted to a popular boy in her class named Philip Leroy and they kiss while playing "two minutes in the closet" (a game similar to seven minutes in heaven) at a party. Over time, Margaret finds out that Nancy, despite seeming confident, has her own insecurities. Nancy tells her friends that she has had her first period on vacation. It's later revealed that this isn't true when Nancy gets her first period while at a restaurant with Margaret.

Margaret's family plans to spend the spring vacation in Florida with Sylvia. The day before they leave, her conservative Christian maternal grandparents, Mary and Paul Hutchins, come for a visit. Mary and Paul have been estranged from Margaret's mother for 14 years due to their disapproval of her interfaith marriage. Margaret's mother cancels the 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 she tries to be polite to her grandparents. When her grandparents bring up the subject of religion, an argument begins. Margaret explodes, declaring that she doesn't need religion or God.

After the confrontation with her grandparents, Margaret stops talking to God. By the end of her study project, Margaret still hasn't resolved her religious identity as she intended. However, she was able to learn about herself and 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 protagonist of the book. She is an only child going through puberty, trying to understand love and sex, and attempting to choose a religion to follow.
  • 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: Margaret's paternal grandmother. She refers to Margaret as "My Margaret" and wants her to embrace Judaism.
  • Nancy Wheeler: Margaret's neighbor and first friend in Farbrook, New Jersey. She is the second of Margaret's friend group (the Four PTS's) to get her first period.
  • Gretchen Potter: A friend of Nancy's whose father is a doctor. 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's in his first teaching job.
  • 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, who disowned Barbara for having an interfaith marriage. They want Margaret to embrace Christianity.

Awards[edit]

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]

Censorship[edit]

Beginning in the late 1970s, the novel has been frequently challenged, for its discussions of sex and charges 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 ranked at number 60,[8] and on the ALA's list for the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 2000s, it ranked at 99.[9]

Subsequent book[edit]

Blume's success with the novel inspired her to write another book; Then Again, Maybe I Won't, focused on similar themes, but from a boy's perspective. The narrator of Then Again, Maybe I Won't is Tony Miglione, a boy the same age as Margaret who is also dealing with puberty, although his transition from childhood to adulthood is quite different from Margaret's.

Parody[edit]

  • In his book Damned, author Chuck Palahniuk satirizes Margaret's appeals to God. Each chapter begins with the central character, Madison Spencer, asking, "Are you there, Satan? It's me, Maddie."
  • Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 9: "Beard After Hours" references the book. While taking refuge in a church, the character Beard says, "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret's little boy."
  • "Bart Sells His Soul", a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, includes a parody of the book.
  • Ryan Reynolds quotes the book's title in Deadpool during a scene where Deadpool escapes Colossus by cutting off his own hand. This is in reference to the book's discussion of menstruation.[10]

Title's legacy[edit]

Several references to the title have been made by changing Margaret's name, or subbing another item in for God:

Film adaptation[edit]

In October 2018, it was announced that a film adaptation of the book was in the early stages of development and that the screen rights had been granted to James L. Brooks and Kelly Fremon Craig, who worked together on The Edge of Seventeen, with Fremon Craig writing and directing the project. Gracie Films will produce the film.[11]

In 2020, it was announced that Lionsgate won the rights to adapt the film at auction,[12] allocating it a budget of $30 million.[12][13] The cast includes Rachel McAdams, Abby Ryder Fortson, Kathy Bates and Benny Safdie.[14]

Lionsgate started filming in Charlotte, North Carolina, in April 2021.[15][16][17] Filming also took place in Concord, North Carolina, in late May 2021.[18] Production concluded on July 1, 2021.[19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret". deletecensorship.org. 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". ALA.org. American Library Association. 26 March 2013. 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". judyblume.com. 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. ^ "Judy Blume on the 50th Anniversary of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret". Books & Books. 2021-01-07. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  6. ^ Blume, Judy. "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret". Judy Blume on the Web. Archived from the original on 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  7. ^ Grossman, Lev (6 January 2010). "All Time 100 Novels". Time. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  8. ^ "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990–1999". ALA.org. American Library Association. Archived from the original on 2016-11-13. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  9. ^ "Top 100 Banned/ Challenged Books: 2000-2009". ALA.org. American Library Association. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-12-13. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  10. ^ "Easter Eggs - Deadpool Wiki Guide - IGN".
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret Is Finally Getting the Hollywood Treatment". Parents. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  13. ^ Walsh, Savannah (2020-03-03). "All About the 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' Movie". ELLE. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  14. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (2021-02-19). "'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret': Rachel McAdams, Abby Ryder Fortson to Star in Judy Blume Adaptation". Variety. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  15. ^ Muccigrosso, Catherine (2021-04-02). "Production of star-studded movie begins in Charlotte as NC film production heats up". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  16. ^ 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' Movie Finds Its Margaret In 'Ant-Man's Abby Ryder Fortson; Rachel McAdams Also Set
  17. ^ "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" Kids Casting Call
  18. ^ Plemmons, Mark (May 28, 2021). "Friday Five: Big stars in Concord?". Independent Tribune. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret': Lionsgate Wraps Production on Feature Adaptation". July 2021.

External links[edit]