August 30-September 5
At the end of the summer before the start of her sixth grade year, Margaret and her family move from New York out to the suburbs of New Jersey. Although reluctant about the move at first, Margaret quickly makes friends of the local girls in her class and even joins their secret club. It is quickly apparant that Margaret is not like her new friends. She does not belong to a Christian church or to a Jewish synagogue. She has no official religion, but she does share a personal relationship with God where she often converses with him about things troubling her in life. Pulled back and forth between two religions until she can no longer take it, Margaret comes to her own conclusions concerning faith.
Blume, J. (1970). Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Growing up I had heard other girls talk about what a wonderful story this book creates. I never took the time to read a summary or even try to figure it out. But it intrigued me that almost every woman I've spoken to, who has grown up in the 80s and later, cites this book as a must-read and one of the best books they've ever read. Once I started it, let's just say, I finally got it. Impossible to put down, this book creates a wonderfully realistic character with Margaret and the struggle to identify herself in accordance with the demands of society and family. I have to admit, a part of me admires Margaret for sticking to her guns and for not choosing a religion simply based on pressure from others. I liked how she tried everything out herself and formed her own opinions. And as if all that wasn't enough, she's also a twelve-year-old who is becoming a woman and going through the beginning stages of adolescence!
From Kirkus Reviews:
The comical longings of little girls who want to be big girls -- exercising to the chant of "We must -- we must -- increase our bust!" -- and the wistful longing of Margaret, who talks comfortably to God, for a religion, come together as her anxiety to be normal, which is natural enough in sixth grade. And if that's what we want to tell kids, this is a fresh, unclinical case in point: Mrs. Blume (Iggie's House, 1969) has an easy way with words and some choice ones when the occasion arises. But there's danger in the preoccupation with the physical signs of puberty -- with growing into a Playboy centerfold, the goal here, though the one girl in the class who's on her way rues it; and with menstruating sooner rather than later -- calming Margaret, her mother says she was a late one, but the happy ending is the first drop of blood: the effect is to confirm common anxieties instead of allaying them. (And countertrends notwithstanding, much is made of that first bra, that first dab of lipstick.) More promising is Margaret's pursuit of religion: to decide for herself (earlier than her 'liberal' parents intended), she goes to temple with a grandmother, to church with a friend; but neither makes any sense to her -- "Twelve is very late to learn." Fortunately, after a disillusioning sectarian dispute, she resumes talking to God. . . to thank him for that telltale sign of womanhood. Which raises the last question: of a satirical stance in lieu of a perspective. (Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1970)
Reviews. (1970, October 1). In Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/fiction/judy-blume-10/are-you-there-god-its-me-margaret/
From School Library Journal:
Gr 4-7. Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret is Judy Blume's account of what it is like to be an almost 12-year-old girl whose greatest desire is just to be normal. The novel is honest and forthright. Margaret Simon worries that she doesn't have anything to fill her bra, that she will be the last girl in her group of friends to start menstruating, that she just won't fit in. And to compound things, she has no religion, so she can't join either the Jewish Community Center or the Protestant Youth Center in her new neighborhood. This recorded version of Margaret's conversations with God, her parents, friends and us, the audience, is even more authentic than the book. Laura Hamilton's reading captures Margaret's anxiety in her conversations with God, her indignation in some conversations with her parents, and her enthusiasm and vulnerability in conversations with her friends. She can emphasize the girls' fixation with the pronunciation of new words in their life, as well as Margaret's pain when she is forced to cancel her planned holiday visit to Florida to see her much loved grandmother. Listeners seem to be co-conspirators, sympathetic friends, and always important members of Margaret's entourage. This conversational story is well-served here. Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Washington, DC
Ching, E. (n.d.). “School Library Journal”. Retrieved from http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Are-You-There-God-Its-Me-Margaret/Judy-Blume/e/9780689841583/?itm=2&USRI=%22are+you+there+god%2c+it%27s+me+margaret%22
Library Setting Uses:
With a group of teens, perform the activity from Margaret’s first day at her new school: My name is. . .Please call me. . .I like. . .I hate. . .This year in school (at the library). . ..I think teachers (librarians) are. . . as an ice breaker at an after-school teen program. To add a twist to the activity, mix up some of the replies and have the students guess who wrote which reply in order to stimulate conversation and mingling.