I read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume way back in the day, but I didn’t remember much about it at all. Since my memory sucks, I thought it would be a perfect choice for Banned Books Week reading. It is often challenged for questionable religious themes as well as for being sexually offensive. It is #60 on the ALA’s most challenged of the 90s list.
I definitely enjoyed following along with the life of 11 year old Margaret Simon! Judy Blume is so great with realistic fiction. I could imagine myself fitting in with Margaret and her friends so perfectly at that age. From secret clubs to talking about bras to making lists of cute boys – that is a girl’s life in the sixth grade for sure.
One of my favorite parts of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is the religious exploration Margaret undergoes. One of her parents was raised a Christian and the other is Jewish. She explores the different options to see if one will fit her. It is not insulting or disrespectful in the least – it is the journey of a young girl who feels lost. It was a great way to highlight the perils of growing up and feeling the need to fit in.
While I obviously don’t find the book sexually offensive, I must admit to being familiar with the “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” chant. (Hey, I can admit that. It was a long time ago.) I also might or might not be guilty of listing boys in order of their cuteness with my friends (I will not disclose how long ago this allegedly occurred). Experiences like that make this book incredibly fun to read! It also made me want to call up my old elementary school friends and call them by their old secret club names.
The way the girls interact with and talk about their parents was also really great. They haven’t reached the real teenage rebellion stage yet, but they’re sure getting there. Margaret is close to her grandmother, who makes a few special appearances. I was also especially close to my grandparents growing up, so this was yet another case of HELLO MARGARET! YOU ARE LIVING MY LIFE!
Basically, if you are a girl and were at some point 11 years old, you should read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. You’ll get to take an incredibly enjoyable trip down memory lane.