Title: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Author: Judy Blume
Published: 1970 | Pages:
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult)
Rating: Can’t believe I waited until 33 to read this one
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In Short: Margaret is almost 12, entering the sixth grade, wants a more robust bust, and isn’t always sure God is listening.
Why I Read Are You There God: More appropriately, why didn’t I read this sooner? More on that later. I read this for Kerry’s Summer of #BlumeALong.
Thoughts in General: I don’t read a lot of Young Adult fiction–there have been a few books that I’ve enjoyed, but for the most part it takes me back to a time in my life that I didn’t love experiencing the first time and don’t really care to experience a second time, even vicariously. However, I noticed as soon as I started Are You There God that I was reading more through a lens of a future mother to preteen girls rather than when I was a preteen.
Ok, my reading did make me reflect back to when I was 11 and 12 and making all sorts of discoveries about my body and self, but it made me think more about how I want my daughters’ discoveries and experiences to be different from mine.
I want my daughters to feel that they have an open door conversational policy with me. I want them to know that they can ask me anything and I’ll give them as straight of an answer as I can. As the oldest child, I felt uncomfortable asking my parents about taboo topics. This meant that before the digital age I was rarely in the know and often embarrassed about my lack of knowledge or my misunderstanding of it.
I want my daughters to embrace their bodies. While I am never 100% satisfied by my size and shape, I am very careful how I talk about beauty and weight in front of my girls. We talk about healthy eating, but never dieting (which I don’t do anyway). We talk about exercise to make our bodies strong, never to make us slimmer. Make-up is a tough one for me–while I do wear a bit (usually only on my eyes/brows as I have very light natural coloring), I don’t want my girls to think they need to wear make-up to look or feel beautiful.
I want my daughters to be able to question the world and faith without any shame. I don’t use this word often because it makes people uncomfortable, but I am an atheist (why even pretend at this point that I’m agnostic because it sounds nicer). This was one of the parts of Are You There God that hit me the hardest as Margaret is trying to decide if she wants to follow her Jewish or Christian heritage. She attends temple and church and at one point becomes so confused and lost that she calls quits on all of it. While I want my girls to have a strong moral upbringing (one does not need church for this!), I also want them to be able to talk and question beliefs openly.
I want my daughters to form healthy friendships that do not hinge on Queen Bees. This one is just wishful thinking. Some days I try to figure out what horrible thing I did in a past life to have to live through girl drama with three little girls when I lived through girl drama hell for so many years. I want my daughters to be Confident. Strong. Wise. Independent. Loving and Kind.
Has this post turned into a true confessions post? Perhaps. While the book itself was kind of a ho-hum read in my mid-thirties, it did give me a lot of pause for the events my daughters will be experiencing in the next 10 years. Amazing how when you’re in the moment these little life changes are so incredibly huge–it’s too bad there are some things we can’t experience through hindsight. I know it would have made my life so much easier.
“If you ask me, being a teenager is pretty rotten–between pimples and worrying about how you smell!”
Oh Margaret…if only that was the worst of it!
Bottom Line: If you are an 11-12 year old tween, now is the time to read this one! (Do I have any 11 year old girls in my audience–heaven help me!!). It’s a timeless classic for a reason…though what you get out of the book might depend on the time you choose to read it.
Have you read Are You There God? Did you have a favorite coming of age story when you were younger (or as an adult?)