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