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Review: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

November 1, 2009

Are You There God It's Me Margaret

During the summer after fifth grade, Margaret Simon and her parents move from New York City to the suburbs in New Jersey.   Margaret makes new friends and adjusts fairly quickly.  She and her friends worry about boys, bras and their periods.

Margaret’s  father is Jewish and her mother is Christian and they’ve decided that Margaret should decide what religion she wants to be when “she’s old enough.”  The problem is, she’s never been exposed to any religion so she knows nothing about any of them.  When Margaret has a lot on her mind, she talks to God, but never knows what to say when people ask her about religion.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume is the story of the ups and downs of Margaret Simon’s sixth grade year.  I read this book for the first time for The Shelf Discovery Challenge.  In her essay for Shelf Discovery, Meg Cabot describes this book by saying, “It’s all delicious stuff, deftly and humorously handled,” and I couldn’t agree more.  I loved this book and just adored the character of Margaret.  She is so real and just brought back junior high so vividly – those insecure years when you do silly things to try to be “normal.”  I could really relate to Margaret and my heart went out to her.  I felt proud of her as she learned from her mistakes and grew as a person.  I think young girls would adore this book because it would serve as a reminder that even though they feel awkward and unsure of themselves, they’re really normal for their age.

Unbelievably, this book is on the list of the top 100 challenged books of 1990 – 2000, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  There is nothing remotely offensive or suggestive in this book.  If I had a young daughter, this is exactly the kind of book I would want her to read.

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46 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2009 9:13 am

    I have read it too and love it for the innocence it depicts.

  2. November 1, 2009 9:16 am

    I have been meaning to read this book for years. Perhaps the time has finally come to pick it up.

  3. November 1, 2009 9:24 am

    I think I might re-read this book (I’m challenging myself to a few re-reads in 2010). I read this in 7th grade! and I don’t recall the religious angle, only the ‘body’ issues. What I remember is how ALL my friends read this – we only had one copy, didn’t tell our parents and passed it around till we all finished it!

  4. November 1, 2009 11:02 am

    I love this book. My mother bought it for me when I was young and I have reread several times since. It has a permanent place on my bookshelf along with quite a few classics from my childhood. 🙂

  5. November 1, 2009 11:11 am

    You know, I’ve never read this book. I think I could read nothing but “kids’ books” for a whole year in order to catch up with all the classics I have missed! Guess I better get reading!

  6. November 1, 2009 12:36 pm

    I am so hoping to find a copy of this at the library sale so I can add it to my list for the Shelf Discovery Challenge!

  7. November 1, 2009 12:37 pm

    I loved this book when I was younger. I don’t entirely understand why it was challenged either – if anything, young girls need more of these books these days rather than reading about sparkly vampires and spineless heroines.

  8. November 1, 2009 12:37 pm

    It is hard to see why it would be challenged. The things that are discussed in it are so tame compared to what’s on tv, or even in other books.

    I read this when I was ten or eleven and it was the perfect age to read this book. I remember doing the “bust” exercises.

    Really the only thing I can think of that would make this book be challenged is that it discusses the issue of menstruation frankly, and maybe some parents are uncomfortable with their kids knowing the facts of life from a source other than themselves. Which, I would think that given our culture, would be kind of silly considering how much over-exposure there is to all kinds of sexuality. You would think parents would appreciate a frank and factual look at the process via fiction.

  9. November 1, 2009 1:43 pm

    I loved this book as a young girl, and think it’s a wonderful book to share with our daughters.

  10. November 1, 2009 1:52 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the novel. I remember having a similar reaction as you did when I read it (maybe 10 years ago). I truly don’t remember anything offensive.

  11. November 1, 2009 2:43 pm

    I loved this book as a kid and I cannot wait until my daughter is of age to read it.

  12. November 1, 2009 3:39 pm

    I remember skimming this book when my girls were about this age. They were both very passionate about the book as well as other Judy Blume novels. At the time I tried not to voice my approval of the books because it would have been the kiss of death to them had their mother liked them. Perhaps I should go back and read them now.

  13. November 1, 2009 4:50 pm

    I’m flabbergasted that this book is on such a list. It’s a delightful book, and in comparison to what’s on the bookshelves now, it’s utterly placid.

    Go figure. *sigh*

  14. dkhuangh permalink
    November 1, 2009 4:55 pm

    one of my favorite judy blume books ever. i love rereading this one. although the first time i read it, i had no idea why laura got made fun of for wearing tight sweaters. it took me a while lol

  15. November 1, 2009 5:03 pm

    I actually have my original book from when I was in grade school. I just re-read it, and let my daughter read it. I swear I still have some of those lines memorized, I read it so many times as a kid. It was truly the book of my youth.

  16. November 1, 2009 6:06 pm

    You bring it all back, so perfectly.

  17. November 1, 2009 6:26 pm

    I read every Judy Blume book I could get my hands on in the 5th and 6th grade. She was a huge part of my growing up years. I totally remember doing the “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” exercises!! Now I wish I hadn’t 🙂 Beautiful review!

  18. November 1, 2009 6:48 pm

    I loved this book when I was a preteen! Thank you for reviewing it.

  19. November 1, 2009 8:40 pm

    I remember when me and all of my friends were reading this book. Sometime they are a bit of a jumble because I read so many and this is getting to be quite some time ago now. Is this the one where she did the chant for the bigger chest?

  20. November 1, 2009 9:20 pm

    The link is up! I thought your review was terrific. I need to write mine tomorrow!

  21. November 1, 2009 9:53 pm

    Terrific review. It’s been years (more like decades) since I read this. But, like Alyce said, I think that the things discussed are probably so tame compared to today’s standards.

    “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” I don’t think anyone whose read it, will ever forget that!

  22. Erica permalink
    November 1, 2009 9:19 pm

    So strange to think that girls today will read with that cover and not the one I grew up with!

  23. November 1, 2009 9:46 pm

    So fun to read a review of a book I loved when I was a kid!!! I don’t remember the specifics of the religion stuff though … I probably didn’t get that part at all!

  24. November 1, 2009 10:02 pm

    Wow! You already read one of your books for the challenge! I am currently reading Little House on the Prairie with my daughter. She loves it and is so anxious for me to read it to her every night (she’s eight). I read this one from Judy Blume when I was a teen, and I remember that her books always brought out different feelings in me. Thanks for the review!

  25. November 1, 2009 10:08 pm

    I chose this book as one of my selections as well. I last year it nearly 10 years ago but it was on regular rotation in my preteen and early teen years. The scene in the restaurant bathroom when the friend got her period for the first time is so vivid in my mind!

    Great review. It’s interesting to read a review from someone who didn’t read this as a kid.

  26. November 1, 2009 10:37 pm

    This brings back memories! I know I enjoyed it as a kid and would definitely give it to my daughter if I had one.

  27. November 1, 2009 10:47 pm

    How interesting- this is one Blume book I’ve never read- I knew it dealt with the girls’ questions about boys and bodies, but I didn’t know there was a religious element in there, too.

  28. November 1, 2009 11:28 pm

    I remember reading this book way back when and really liking it. Thanks for bringing back such good memories! 🙂

  29. November 2, 2009 12:08 am

    Books that talk about mistakes and what can be learned from these personal experiences are very powerful. I love books like these. Thanks for the review!

  30. November 2, 2009 1:22 am

    I read this book when I was a girl and loved it–although, I have to say I identified and liked Tales of the 4th Grade Nothing by the same author more, which always seemed to stump my mom and our school librarian. 🙂

  31. November 2, 2009 1:26 am

    Awesome review. I read this one many times as a preteen and it was like a “girls guide to book.” I believe it was a book that “saved” me… I was too shy to ask and talk about “girl stuff.” It was fun to think of this book again.

  32. November 2, 2009 6:43 am

    I love Judy Blume! It’s been years since I read any of her books and now I really want to re-read this one 🙂

  33. stacybuckeye permalink
    November 2, 2009 8:33 am

    I adore this book, but it’s been years sionce I read it. I’m so glad you loved it too 🙂

  34. November 2, 2009 9:01 am

    I have to read Judy Blume books one of these days, I have to see what the fuss is all about 🙂

  35. November 2, 2009 9:42 am

    This is on my list for The Shelf Discovery Challenge as well.

    Thanks for the review. I can’t wait to start reading the book.

  36. November 2, 2009 2:08 pm

    It is so interesting reading the response to this book of someone who is reading it for the first time as an adult!

  37. November 2, 2009 4:10 pm

    I read this book many moons ago when I was about 12, and loved it. It was one of the first books I bought for my daughter the first year she was in middle school. I love Blume, and think all her YA books are just about classics. I think every young girl should read this book, because it really speaks intelligently to that age group. Have you read any of her adult novels? I read one a few years ago and loved it as well.

  38. November 2, 2009 10:21 pm

    I thought this was a classic among young girls!! I can’t believe it is being challenged… probably for one small detail in one little scene. 🙂 At least it is still wonderfully popular!

  39. November 3, 2009 9:37 am

    I think I read this ages ago, but I really didn’t remember much of it. It may be that I wasn’t that enthralled with the book at the time. Sounds like one that should be read, though.

  40. November 3, 2009 11:41 am

    I read this as a kid. I’m thinking maybe I should buy it, just to have it on the shelf in the hopes that my daughter will pick it up.

  41. November 4, 2009 8:24 pm

    WoW! This is a blast from the past. I can remember my daughters reading this book. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

    Thanks for linking this review to the party!

  42. November 4, 2009 9:40 pm

    Judy Blume was probably my favorite writer when I was younger. I loved this book, and I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to read it. I think the whole religion thing was what stirred the controversy, but I don’t know for sure. Seems pretty tame compared to some newer books.


  43. November 5, 2009 2:50 pm

    ohhh I read this when I was little and loved it!

  44. November 6, 2009 6:22 pm

    I’ve read this book many, many times, but not recently. I may have to dig my copy out.

  45. November 11, 2009 10:24 pm

    I read this at age 13 or so, so I was a little too old for it I think. I probably would have like it more if I’d read it two years earlier.

  46. November 20, 2009 9:17 am

    This book so hard to get my hands on “back on the day” Can’t remember exactly what it was about, but I know I read it one sitting, so it must have been good.
    Banning books is just so silly.

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