Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Are You There God, It's Me Margaret


There aren't too many girls that grew up in America in the '80's that didn't learn at least a little bit of the birds and the bees from Are You There God, It's Me Margaret. I read it so many times, and it was passed around to so many of my friends, that it is by far the most influential book I read in my youth. I even still have my original copy, although it is worse for wear (see my pictures below!). For this reason, that I am starting my Shelf Discovery Challenge Rampage Month with this book.




Margaret is the new girl in town, moving from NYC to New Jersey suburbia. She instantly makes friends with three other girls as they all start sixth grade and begin the business of growing up. They all get bras, keep a "Boy Book", participate in exercises to make their breasts grow, worry about who would get their period first, worry about body odor, practice kissing on a pillow, and crush on the cute boy in class. All very important, end-of-the-world stuff to a 12 year old.


At the same time, Margaret struggles emotionally with the reality of living in a home with no religion. Because her father was raised Jewish, and her mother was raised in a Christian home, all hell broke loose when they were married, and have made the decision to let Margaret choose her own faith when she is an adult. Margaret talks to God on a daily basis, confiding in Him when she is happy or confused, angry or sad. She just doesn't know to which God she is speaking. She begins a journey to try to make sense of it all, going to Temple with her grandmother, and to church with her friends. With this plot line, Blume provides a wonderful balance between the light, sweet and humorous, and a very grown-up issue.


When I read this book, I am completely transported back in time. To this day, the words are so familiar to me, if I didn't know better, I'd think they were my own memories. I suspect that no other book in this challenge will touch me quite the same. As an adult, the story did not lose its lustre, did not feel dumbed down or corny. Gro-Bras, Teenage Softies, and Moose Freed will be forever imprinted on my inner tween heart.

5 out of 5 stars

31 comments:

Melody said...

For me, it's Enid Blyton's books and Nancy Drew series that make me nostalgic. I've a book by this author (I think the title is Forever) and I look forward to reading it.

JoAnn said...

My sisters all loved this, but I was a little too old for it in the 80's. Glad it stood the test of time for you!

Susan said...

I'm not sure if my daughter read this one. She was born in '81. I don't recall seeing it lying around the house, but then she wasn't a voracious reader like I was. She was too busy socializing with her friends. I'll ask her later. I think I want to read it though.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've really got to get this for the Shelf Discovery Challenge. Every time I check at the library it's gone!

farmlanebooks said...

I love seeing the battered, well loved copy! I remember reading this then I was a teenager (or younger?) I think it is a very important books for all young girls. Thank you for the glimpse back in time.

Julie P. said...

Fabulous review! I read this one a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it too! I think I appreciated it even more as a grownup!

Make sure you link here:

http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/2009/11/shelf-discovery-challenge-book-reports.html

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

What a wonderful reaction (re-reaction?) to the book! I'm glad to know that it rings so true to you all these years later (oops, how do I say that, 'reading it as an adult' I mean!)

I have a feeling that when I read ARE YOU THERE GOD for the Challenge it will strike me in much the same way.

And, is that your original copy that you read?!

Kathleen said...

All I can say is seeing the cover of that book took me back to my childhood also. I read the book numerous times as a pre-teen and LOVED it. I should reread it too and see what I think about it now.

The Bumbles said...

I haven't read it since the original read as a kid - I felt so daring, so enlightened - I remember thinking, if my Mom knew what was in this book she would surely take it away!

I just finished reading Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea - if my Mom knew what was in that book while I was reading it over Thanksgiving I'm pretty sure she would have taken it away ;0)

bermudaonion said...

I'm so impressed that you have your old copy! I read this book for the first time for the Shelf Discovery Challenge and just loved it. Margaret is so real.

stacybuckeye said...

I still have my original copy too and looks just like yours. Love it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - Oh, I loved Ms. Drew as well. I think I read them all! Stay tuned...Forever is coming a week from today!

JoAnn - I actually think I read this in the late '70's, but who's keeping track?? My adolescence would have been much harder if not for this book!

Susan - Maybe she just read it at school! You should read it, you'd get a kick out of it. You can read it in about two hours.

Jill - It is the same way at our library. Most all of Judy Blume's books are on hold!

Jackie - yes, that copy is well-loved! By both me, all my friends, and my daughter!

Julie - Thanks for the reminder. It has been posted!

Dawn - haha! I know what you mean! Yes this is THE original, missing its back cover with cracked yellow pages!

Kathleen - it is almost surreal, reading it now after practically memorizing it in grade school. You should give it a try!

Molly - oh I know! Totally daring and living on the edge! Even more daring when all my friends and I had a sleepover, locked the bedroom door and did our exercises!

Kathy - It was a great read to start this challenge. I'm sure it will be my favorite of them all!

Stacy - no other cover would do in this situation. In fact, for all these books, I'm using the original cover art!

heidenkind said...

I have never read a Judy Blume book.

Matt said...

That sounds like a really cute book.I can relate that books can transport me back in time, reaching a specific place and memory. For me that book is The Little Prince, which I have read over and over again even after I reached adulthood. I remembered the little boy who sat next to me in 3rd grade and we were reading partners. For the first 20 minutes of school, we were to read silently the books we brought for Daily Reading. I wonder where he is now? Maybe I can find him via Facebook. :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Tasha - And you call yourself a romance enthusiast! What about "Forever"? Just wait, the review is coming next Tuesday. You need to get on the stick girl!

Matt - You can find anybody on Facebook. It's kinda scary actually! These reading memories are so precious to me. This was a crazy, fun trip down memory lane!

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Great review! I remember reading this over and over. I'd love to go back and re-read it. I wonder if I could find my old copy.

Alice Teh said...

Wow... you really have a well-loved copy of the book! I haven't read this before but that's about to change.

Ti said...

I cannot wait for my daughter to read this one. She's too young now (6) but she'll get a kick out of knowing that her mom read it when she was around 8 years-old!

Alyce said...

I owned a copy with the same cover! I held onto it for years, but got rid of all of my Judy Blume books when I had boys. I didn't really even think about wanting to read them again myself. :)

Nymeth said...

I love that picture - that's a well-loved copy if I ever saw one! I've never read Judy Blume, but I'd like to someday for historical reasons :P

Beth F said...

I know this was popular, but I was waaaay too old for it in the 80s. I should probably take a look at it sometime.

How wonderful that it still has power, even for adults.

cardiogirl said...

This is so interesting, Sandy, because I know I read that book and I swore it was about her getting her period last.

I have NO MEMORY of God being in it. Uh, crazy since He's in the title. I'm going to the library today to check this one out again. Now that I pay attention to what I'm reading.

Nice synopsis, by the way.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Amy - to me, reading it from my original book even made it better!

Alice - try to find it. You would only be out a few hours of reading time!

Ti - I waited awhile to give it to Emma. I was scared of planting the idea of the game "One Minute in the Closet"!!!!

Alyce - no, boys wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole. It is funny so many of us had the book with the same cover!

Nymeth - it is amazing how one book can represent the pubescent experiences of girls everywhere. It is enjoyable, even way past those lovely pubescent years!

Beth - it does take you back to those innocent times before all hell breaks loose!

Cardiogirl - no I think little Janie gets it last (is that a spoiler? Sorry!). At least, she hadn't gotten it by the end of the book. God is about 40% of the plot, but I can see how you might forget, with all the period stuff, boy stuff, boob stuff, etc. I was a little fuzzy on the God thing when I read it for the first time in 30 years!

Dar said...

Oh my, you know I read this book as a teenager which was many, many years ago now and I still vividly remember it. I do have a copy somewhere on my shelf. I should dig it out and give it a read again. I'd like to be transported back in time for a while.

sarah Pekkanen said...

Oh, I adored this book. I remember reading it and feeling electrified, like someone gets what it! You make me want to go back and re-read it... i think I will

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Oh gosh Sandy....did you ever just bring back memories! This was one of my "most read" books at a tween....I wonder if re-reading will spark any repressed memories, LOL?

cardiogirl said...

psst. I forgot to tell you I really like your new profile pic. So sassy!

The Bumbles said...

It is sassy isn't it CG?

Oh - and Sandy, as for boys not touching this book with a 10 foot pole, I know a few who read it just to try and figure out what the big secrets were in there so they could then use the information to torment girls.

Jenners said...

Oh...that cover takes me back!! And just hearing about it brings it all back to me. I agree with you...this was THE book of my tweendom!

Anna said...

I loved this book as a kid. Actually, I think I read the same version that you own. :)

You can't go wrong with Judy Blume in my eyes. Her books will always have a special place in my heart.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I have a lot of my books from when I was younger, but not this one. I do love this book though and really should re-read it.