Monday, September 21, 2009

Are You There God, It's Me Margaret

This was a book that was on my classic children's read list for children's lit which explains the longer and more techinal review. I guess I could also use it as a Tween Tuesday pick.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: Well, it originally released in 1970, but it's still around today.

About the Book: Margaret has just moved and is entering sixth grade. She spends the year trying to figure out religion, growing up, and making friends.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This was yet another book I somehow missed out on reading as a child. Honestly, the title threw me off-I thought it was a boring title and I was also a "good little Christian child", so why would I want to read a book where the character has to ask where God is? Yes, those are the exact thoughts that went through my head, which is a shame because I think I would have really loved this book as a tween.

The book was first published in 1970, but the overall themes of growing up and religion still are relevant today. There were a few things that would be outdated to today's readers such as Margaret mentioning records, but for the most part there wasn't much that dated the story. (I believe it had an update in 2001 to change some of the outdated words, so I'm not sure why they didn't change record!) You could place Margaret in any time period. I did find myself picturing Margaret in the 70's though, I think because I knew that was the setting the book was written in. I don't think a young reader would place Margaret in that setting though, especially since that time period most likely would not be something they would have much knowledge about.

Margaret struggles with her parents interfaith marriage and is not sure what religion she belongs to. She also talks to God, but feels like she can't tell her parents this. I think there are many children who struggle with religion and can relate to Margaret's struggle. There is a divide wih religions still today and I think there are children who might not feel as though they belong or understand their parents or friends beliefs.

The biggest theme that I think still remains true today is Margaret's growing up. She worries about when she'll grow breasts, she has to sit through talks on getting her period, and she's starting to notice boys. These are all things that girls, no mater the time period, go through. Although Margaret was really excited to get her period and talked about it with her friends-my friends and I did not want to get our periods! But we did hate "you're becoming a woman" presentations at school too!!

Girls develop at different ages and there's even a character in the book that is bigger and taller then the other girls in her school. There's also an emphasis for tween girls to look and act older, with magazines, movies, and tv shows, so I think tween girls could all relate to Margaret.

Even though it was written in a different time period, I didn't feel like Margaret's elementary school experience was all that different than my own in the 80's or my sister's in the 90's. The boy's teased her, the girl's giggled and gossiped, but this wasn't overly done, so it wasn't as though the boys were put in one box and the girl's put in another. I felt that Margaret and her classmates acted very much the way the same age still does today. Overall, I think the issues that Are you There God, It's Me Margaret deals with are timeless, which makes the book readable and relateable today. I would give this one to all tween girls to read.


  1. This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. The thing I still remember was the belt that Margaret got to prepare for her period which was outdated when I read it in about 1985ish so I had to ask my mom what that meant. I'm sure that is one of the things that was updated in the 2001 version.

  2. Oh my...I so remember reading this book. It was all the roar, parents not wanting kids to read it and what not. I rather liked the book. The line I remember always is...
    "We must, We must, we must increase our busts!"
    Yes indeed, that line completely stands out to me even to this day - some odd 25+ years.

  3. I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I haven't read ANY of Judy Blume's books, ever. We can add Twilight to that list, too...(:

  4. This sounds like a cute read!

    I have an award for you! I haven't figured out how to do proper links in comments, so the link is below.

  5. When I was growing up this was one of my favorite books. Your review has now made me want to go unearth it and re-read it.

  6. I remember this book particularly because my sister recommended it to me. Usually the stream went the other way: I was older, and I gave HER books to read. Which resulted more than a few times in her deciding not to read them, just because I'd liked them. :-) But with this one, my younger sister read it first and nagged me until I read it too. Afterward, we talked about a lot of the same things Margaret had thought about or talked was great for teaching us that we COULD mention those sensitive growing up issues (my parents didn't talk about any of that).
    And speaking of kids developing at different mom just pulled out a photo of my sister and I at a birthday party...I was maybe 10 or 11, my sister a year younger...and we were GIANTS. Like, a foot taller than everyone else! Hilarious to look at that now and realize how different we were...and didn't notice it at the time so much.
    Great review! As you can see, it made me all nostalgic. I should give this one a re-read. Thanks!

  7. I checked out this book from the school library SO many times! My small town school library barely had anything, so I did a lot of re-reading. I also pictured Margaret in the 70s, mostly because the library's book still had the 70s cover! And it was around 1988. The story is timeless, though. I almost cried when I saw Judy Blume in person at ALA a few years ago. Her books meant a lot to me. Just As Long As We're Together is a favorite too. Great review, Sarah!

  8. Bookworm shouldn't feel embarrassed; I haven't read any Judy Blume books, either, even though I was a 6th-grader in the late 1970s. My tween daughters both read this book last year, though, and they enjoyed it. They didn't have to ask me to explain anything, so the updating must have done the trick.

  9. I was in middle school in the late 70s and this book was such a BIG deal!! My friends and I all read it and loved it but it was controversial at the time. Some parents wouldn't let their kids read it so they had to sneak it. It seems pretty tame by today's standards but it was so personal that some parents wouldn't allow it. I remember the "We must increase out bust" line too!This was a great book and it answered a lot of questions at the time. I have always loved all Judy Blume books. So glad to hear it's still going strong.

  10. aww man =) i loved ur review! totally awesome! I think i read it while growing up but i do have to pick it up again! Thanks for sharing!

  11. a long time ago this book got banned from the library becuase It was so innapropriate
    but all of the things in tis book are true, so i dont know why

  12. I remember this book! I must have read it 20 years ago but loved it. You are right, it is a classic.


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