Judy Blume, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”

“But if you aren’t any religion, how are you going to know if you should join the Y or the Jewish Community Center?” This question launches eleven-year-old Margaret on a journey of self-discovery. Margaret was raised without a strong religious conviction thanks in part to her parent’s interfaith marriage and was told she could pick one for herself when she is old enough. Unbeknownst to her parents, she talks to God every night. Her conversations with God reflect the thoughts of many pre-teen girls: she wants her breasts to grow. She wants to get her period. She wants to fit in with her new friends. As a result, it is considered a canonical text in the young adult genre. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published in 1970 through Bradberry Press. It was won the following awards: Outstanding Book of the Year, New York Times; Time Magazine All-Time 100 Novels List; Scholastic Magazine’s Parent & Child 100 Greatest Books for Kids. An upcoming film adaptation was announced in 2018, set to be directed by Kelly Fremon Craig.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is frequently challenged for its portrayal of religion and its frank discussions of puberty and sexuality. For example, Margaret’s friends encourage her to steal her father’s Playboy magazines and frequently chant “We must – we must – we must increase our bust!” Margaret describes being unimpressed with religious services despite her nightly prayers. Some well-known banning attempts include being removed from elementary school libraries in Gilbert, Arizona in 1980. In 1982, it was challenged in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and in the same year, schools in Zimmerman (STATE?) required parental permission before students could read it.

About the Author

Judy Blume (b. 1938) graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in education. Her notable works include Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Tiger Eyes, and the Fudge books. Her books have sold more than 85 million copies. She works with (and serves on the board for) the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Further Reading

Baldassarro, R. Wolf.  Article: Banned Books Awareness: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Economy, Phyllis. Grin. Children’s Literature: The Controversy in Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

Shoard, Catherine. Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to be adapted for film.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Maragaret @ Banned Library 

Judy Blume’s Website