I was excited to see Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret on Amazon’s list of 100 books to read in a lifetime because I have heard so many great things about it but somehow never read it.
Margaret Simon, almost twelve, has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she’s anxious to fit in with her new friends. When she’s asked to join a secret club she jumps at the chance. But when the girls start talking about boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret starts to wonder if she’s normal. There are some things about growing up that are hard for her to talk about, even with her friends. Lucky for Margaret, she’s got someone else to confide in… someone who always listens.
And that someone is God. But Margaret is not being raised in any religion. Her father was raised Jewish and her mother was raised Christian. Her parents have decided not to let her choose when she is older. Despite the fact that her parents do not raise her in any religion or discuss God with her, all of her friends are being raised with religion. Margaret feels left out and desperately wants to feel like she belongs to a religion, any religion. She sets out on a year-long project to find a religion. But as she goes to a synagogue and different churches, she doesn’t feel God’s presence the way she does when she is just talking to him in her bedroom. As she struggles to find her place among her new school and new friends, she finds herself talking to God a lot, asking for help in finding the right religion for her, and for typical middle-school-girl-stuff.
The book leaves a lot of loose ends, which is not something that you may expect in a book geared towards young girls. But I think that is kind of the point, to leave the reader realizing that not everything will or should be figured out right away, that it is okay to be confused about who you are. Margaret does not find the answers she is looking for, but she does learn a lot. She learns that the girl she thought was her friend is a liar. She learns that the rumors about the girl she had been judging throughout the whole book turned out not to be true. She learns a lot about herself and her family. She is still finding herself when the book ends. To to me, this makes for a perfect book for a girl in middle school.
I thought this was a great book. Reading it as an adult, it was pretty predictable, but still enjoyable. There are some bo0ks that you get more out of an adult, but I think I would have gotten more out of this book it if I had read it when I was younger. That being said, Judy Blume does a great job getting you into the mindset of a 12-year-old. It’s easy to forget all of the struggles of middle school but Judy Blume brings you right back (painfully, at times). 5 Stars for Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Have you read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret? What did you think? It has sparked a lot of controversy and was even banned, so I would love to know what you think.