Blume, J. (1970). Are you there god? It’s me, Margaret. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 3.6
Genre: Classics, Realistic Fiction, Religious Fiction
Subjects: Adolescence, Changes and New Experiences, Friends and Friendship, Romantic Relationships, Religion, Family, Teenage Girls

“We must – we must – we must increase our bust!”

Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is targeted for a young female adolescent audience as it discusses female related bodily images and physical changes. I have heard from many adult men that when they had young adolescent female children of their own, reading this novel actually aided them in understanding the mind set of their own daughters. Other topics that can easily cross to both genders and aid in self-awareness are those dealing with confusion and misunderstanding due to growing up, religious identity issues, and an overall sense and desire of wanting to belong.

Margaret Simon just moved from New York City to a suburban home in a predominantly Jewish community in Farbrook, New Jersey. After moving to a town where everyone knows everyone else, Margaret quickly become friends with other girls from her school, discovers her desire to feel as if she belongs, and even allows Nancy to tell her how to dress. Of all of Margaret’s new friends, Nancy Freed is the most eager to grow up. She practices kissing, experiments with makeup, compares herself to women in her father’s Playboy magazines, and yet is the last in their club’s race to begin her period.

During the course of the story, Margaret turn 12-years-old, forms a club with three other pre-teen/tween girls (Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie) that are all Jewish and attend the Jewish Community Center, chooses a school paper/project in which she researches religion in hope to find her own, attends a Jewish Temple, a First Presbyterian church, a United Methodist church, goes to a Catholic confessional, discovers she has a crush on Nancy’s older brother Moose, plays spin the bottle at a party, purchases her first bra, buys and samples sanitary pads, and begins her menstrual cycle.

Throughout the book, Margaret struggles with her parents, Herb and Barbara, in which they desire her to choose her own religion. They are less formal than many other parents and a religiously blended marriage. Margaret’s Grandmother Sylvia, an Orthodox Jewish lady knits Margret sweaters, funds her summer camps, and persistently asks if and when Margaret will have her first boyfriend. Margaret’s other grandparents, on her mother’s side are estranged due to their devout Christian beliefs and inability to accept their daughter is married to a Jewish man. But, the most interesting relationship that exists and continually develops during the course of this novel is Margaret’s continual and casual conversations with God. She starts each conversation with “Are You there God? It’s me, Margaret”. She asks for help finding a religion, for a larger bust, and as the book ends and Margaret graduates from the sixth grade and has her first period, she shares with him immediately her excitement of finally growing up and even thanks him for it.

Judy Blume presents a female coming-of-age story in her novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Blume does an outstanding job dealing with issues dealt particularly by tween girls, such as the sense of female identity through bodily image and puberty as is associated with becoming a “women” in addition with combining moments of age appropriate humor. Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret was listed in Times top 100 books and is listed by the American Library Association as one of the top 100 most frequently challenged books due the topics of menstruation and religion. Judy Blume is no stranger to her books being challenged having five titles listed in the top 100 by the ALA, and is a leading activist in anticensorship. She feels it is important to provide literature that exposes its readers to ideas different than their own so they can discover their own identity. Readers that enjoy Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret may also enjoy Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything by Rebecca Rupp or Ida B…and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan.

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