by Judy Blume
Reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a rite of passage when I was a certain age, and I remember reading it several times over. As my twin daughters are approaching 11 and already experiencing some of the ups and downs of adolescence, I’ve been thinking back on that beloved book and wondering, first, how I might perceive it now as an adult, and second, if it would be a good choice for my daughters at this point. Rather than digging my old hardback copy out of the dusty box on a high shelf in the garage where I’m pretty sure it’s located, I bought a new paperback copy to read, and then to pass on to my girls, depending.
Two things I worried about when I started re-reading it were: was it God-heavy? (It was hard to remember.) And, was it outdated? I mean, let’s face facts: this book is now FORTY-FIVE years old.
Well, I loved it, I really did. Yes, some things about it are outdated – like Margaret’s mother setting her hair in rollers (nobody does that anymore, do they?), “supper parties,” and plaid dresses with loafers. But those are superficial things. The story itself is timeless – a young girl caught in that angsty middle place of no longer being a little kid, but not quite being a young woman yet – watching her body change and wanting it to hurry up and change faster, navigating friendships and high emotions, and suddenly realizing that boys aren’t so yucky.
It’s also not at all God-heavy, as I feared it might be. If anything, it speaks to the confusion and ambivalence kids and teens may have about God and religion.
I cried at the end when Margaret finally (finally?!) gets her period – even though I remembered that part, so it wasn’t a surprise. Honestly, it just brought up a lot of emotions for me – remembering what this book meant to me when I was that age, remembering getting my own first period (and being thrilled, not scared!), and anticipating the changes coming down the pike for my own daughters.
In writing this book all those years ago, Blum really had her finger on the pulse of girls of a certain age.
I handed the book over to Daisy, one of my twins, this morning, and by lunch time she was halfway through it. May it mean as much to her as it did to me.