MeMargaret

Are you there, God, it’s me Margaret by Judy Blume
Reading level: 4.7
Interest level: 4-7th grade
Realistic Fiction

If you grew up in the 70’s, and you were a girl, you definitely read Judy Blume. Margaret is the 11 year old daughter of a Jewish man and a Christian woman. Margaret’s Jewish grandmother tries to influence her towards Judaism. Margaret’s mother’s parents haven’t talked with Margaret’s mother since she made a decision to marry out of her faith. In this day of tolerance of both mixed race and mixed faith marriages, this prejudice seems outlandish. But, in the sixties and before, race and faith were serious concerns when choosing to marry and have children. Margaret has moved from New York to the New Jersey suburbs to begin her 6th grade year. Almost immediately upon moving in, her neighbor, Nancy invites her to her home and to join a group of girls for a secret club. During this year, Margaret pines for her period and adolescence to begin. She also spends time in different churches and synagogues trying to find where she fits in religiously. She checks in with God almost every day, asking for her period to start and for her to find out where she belongs. Ironically, in trying to allow their daughter to be whatever religion she wishes, she ends up “being nothing.”

I grew up very much like Margaret, with an atheist father and a Russian Orthodox mother who witnessed too much sexual abuse in the church to want her children to belong to a religion. My brothers and I were dutifully sent off to Sunday school, however, where we proved what heathens we were by stealing the offering and running across the road to Longs Drugstore to buy big boxes of candy. We were caught and kicked out of church #1. As a teenager, I had a pilgrimage much like Margaret’s, where I went to several different churches. I was kicked out of the Mormon Church for asking too many questions. I was asked not to return to the Catholic Church when the priest, upon learning that I was not baptized, told me I was going to hell. My 16 year old self might have said something to him that rhymes with ‘duck foo.’ I settled with my mother at the Unity Church, where they recognized that we were good people trying to do our best, not sinners damned to hell. It was in that church that we had my mother’s funeral 5 days before my husband and I returned to that sanctuary to be married. I found, over the years, that the pastor sets the tone for the church. So when the Unity pastor retired, we did too. We try to teach our sons the reason behind each holiday and would be fine if they decided to attend church. When they’re teenagers they will learn that that’s where you meet the nice girls.

Judy Blume wrote many other books, most dealing with girls’ transition from childhood to adolescence. Her books for older tweens do involve masturbation (Deenie, And then, maybe I won’t, and Tiger Eyes)and a 14 year old girl sneaking out for sex (Forever). A book read by us as 12 year olds thinking it was another tween book, Wifey, is a book about an adulterous wife.

Blume, J. (1970). Are you there God?: It’s me, Margaret. New York: Dell.

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