Are You There God? It's me, Margaret

by Judy Blume

Paperback, 1970



Local notes

PB Blu




Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (1970)


Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.


Original publication date


Physical description

7.4 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member lycomayflower
14.) [Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.], [[Judy Blume]] **1/2

A reread. I know I read this as a kid (and from the state of my childhood copy, probably more than once), and I remember having sort of lukewarm feelings about it. Others of Judy Bloom's (particularly [Starring Sally J. Freedman as
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Herself]) were absolute favorites, but this one I don't think I liked as much. I mostly remembered the stuff the book is known for (frank discussion of periods and of the adolescent girl characters' desire for their breasts to grow), though there are other things here the book gives equal weight (the difficulties of being "no religion" for an eleven-year-old girl in 1970s New Jersey; family dynamics). I think as a pre-pubescent kid I didn't warm to the book because I looked on the looming changes of puberty with a kind of resigned dread. I might have wanted to grow up in order to have more autonomy and control over my life, but I had no interest in the physical changes that would come with it (and I *certainly* wasn't doing any dubious exercises to get my breasts to grow. Pain in the ass, breasts.) I was a kid who would have been thrilled if puberty had just held it's horses for a couple of years until I would have been more ready for it. Alas. So it was probably hard for me to relate to these girls who seemed solely focused on "getting it," and while as a kid I loved reading books about experiences that were not my own, this one just fed my suspicion (common, I'm sure) that I wasn't doing growing up and being a girl "right." Upon this reread, while I love the fact that the book talks about periods and developing bodies openly (and provides, through the experiences of the several girls in the book, a few different illustrations of what getting a period for the first time might be like), it struck me starkly how none of the girls in the book cares about anything else aside from puberty and boys. They have no interests. They don't talk about anything else. Then there's the other thing the book is about: Margaret's struggle growing up with parents who want her to choose her own religion (or continue having no religion) when she's older. This scenario came about because her mother was Christian and her father Jewish and there was a schism in her mother's family when she married a Jewish man. Margaret talks to God about this struggle and takes it upon herself to go to different churches and temple with her friends and paternal grandmother. But the examination of religion is completely surface-level. There's nothing about what anyone believes or what it means to anyone to have a religion. The closest we get is Margaret's maternal grandmother, in an ill-fated reunion with her daughter's family, declaring that you don't choose religion, you're born into it. But the hollow religious experimentation just sort of comes to nothing. It's a big question to deal with, especially in a short middle grade book, and I think it's appropriate for the age range the book is aimed at for there to be some ambiguity and sense that there may not be a right answer, but that isn't the feeling I was left with. It feels more like a null conclusion than an ambiguous one. I know this book has achieved classic status, and I think in some ways that is deserved. It's important for girls (and boys) to know about female puberty, and the implicit lesson here that periods are thing that you can talk about is vital. But ultimately, for me, it still felt slightly alienating and hollow.
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LibraryThing member msjessicamae
I absolutely LOVED this book.

How is it that I am 25 and just now reading this for the first time? This story had so many similarities with my life at that age. Margaret is trying to decide if she believes in God while at the same time begging him to let her “get it” (“it” being her period).
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She has the same kind of friends I had at that age, the group with a leader. In Margaret’s case the leader of her friends was Nancy. Margaret also has to deal with her parents and trying to get them to understand the new parts of her life, like how important is it that she doesn’t wear socks on the first day of school.

There is a quote on page 64 that I could totally relate to:

“During this time I talked to Nancy every night. My father wanted to know why we had to phone each other so often when we were together in school all day.”
My dad was constantly talking to my mom about how there was something wrong with me because I was on the phone with my friends the moment I got home from school.

Even though I truly wish I had read this book in 6th grade, I wonder if I would have appreciated it as much then. I know I would have felt an intense connection with the story, but I don’t know if I would have realized all the similarities at the time. Would I have loved it just because it felt familiar? I will never know but I am glad I finally read it. Now I am going to have to read more Judy Blume.
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LibraryThing member The_Literary_Jedi
One of the defining books of a generation, this book centers on teen Margaret Simon and how she copes with a big move to a new place, new friends, changing from child to teen, and dreams beyond.

The story is a classic one; Margaret and her friends talk about things thought typical of teen girls:
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boys, periods, crushes. It is all very PG but at the time, I can remember parents were a little put off by the subject matter; namely the candid discussions of religion and menstruation. We follow Margaret as she navigates things like moving and religion with her friends. The story builds and grows right along with Margaret as she discovers things about herself, her family, and her friends. One of the hallmarks is Margarets' relationship to religion.

The characters are typical teen girl stereotypes but each serves a purpose in the story and guides Margaret - and by extension the reader - along the journey to being a teen. Margaret is completing a class project centered on finding a[n] (organized) religion to follow but ends up becoming disillusioned after an argument between her family when her maternal grandparents visit. The biggest thing each character is dealing with is menstruation and waiting for their periods to arrive. The girls go through the embarrassment of buying a sanitary belt and napkins and practicing putting them on and even exercises to increase their busts.

The writing is very simple, this is after all about a pre-teen in the sixth grade and is intended for audiences of the same grade level. Many adult readers may find this nostalgic but newer readers may be put off by the apparent blandness of it. The way Blume handles the situations in the book - some based on her own experience - come across as it may have to a young reader 'back in the day' which is candid with emotional range befitting the age range.

I'd recommend this book for age-appropriate readers in the same grade. While accessible to all genders of readers, readers who identify as male may not enjoy it as much. A sequel, "Then Again, Maybe I Won't" is written from a male perspective at a similar age.

*All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
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LibraryThing member arouse77
coming of age novel read by every girl i know at about age 9. conflated the experience of menstruating to a watershed moment i do not think it would have held in my mind othterwise.

a nevertheless worthwhile read for its ability to speak sensitively to many of the concerns of the adolescent girl.
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social conventions, physical and emotional changes, as well as family strife are all there for the asking. offers a relatable and mostly reassuring glimpse into the life and mind of a young girl for other young girls.
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LibraryThing member Secret7

I loved this book when I was a child. I felt so connected to Margaret and was also very curious about her religion. Reading this again I felt like I was connecting with an old friend. nd I was reminded how difficult it is to be a child stepping into adulthood. Will always treasure this book.
LibraryThing member groovymamma
God bless Judy Blume. I don't know how I or any other girl in my generation would have learned about periods and puberty, and delivered in such a fresh voice with not a false note in Margaret. We all felt her angst. Still holds up today as a great coming of age novel for a tween girl.
LibraryThing member AngelaLam
Not what my parents would have wanted me to read, but everyone else was reading it. The one book I read by peer pressure. Not bad, but not my typical style either. Funny, I married a man who is still the BIGGEST Judy Blume fan.
LibraryThing member ragulto101
i loved this book! I first read it when I was in 5th grade. When first read it I could relate to Margaret; you know with the whole moving into a new town, new place, with new friends. Except unlike Margaret I didn't have any religious problems. I think I might read it again.
LibraryThing member katielder
I first read this book more than thirty years ago, as a seventh or eighth grader. I remember feeling so relieved that someone was writing about these topics, and that I might just be normal. In re-reading it so many years later, even though the social taboo has been removed from many of the
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subjects this books addresses, I still found the main concerns of Margaret to be as relevant as ever. In addition, reading this book as a "grown-up" gave me greater insight into the religious/God aspects of the book, which are handled in an authentic, pre-adolescent way. I guess at 12, like Margaret, I was more preoccupied with my boobs than I am now.
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LibraryThing member bermudaonion
During the summer after fifth grade, Margaret Simon and her parents move from New York City to the suburbs in New Jersey. Margaret makes new friends and adjusts fairly quickly. She and her friends worry about boys, bras and their periods.

Margaret’s father is Jewish and her mother is Christian and
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they’ve decided that Margaret should decide what religion she wants to be when “she’s old enough.” The problem is, she’s never been exposed to any religion so she knows nothing about any of them. When Margaret has a lot on her mind, she talks to God, but never knows what to say when people ask her about religion.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume is the story of the ups and downs of Margaret Simon’s sixth grade year. I read this book for the first time for The Shelf Discovery Challenge. In her essay for Shelf Discovery, Meg Cabot describes this book by saying, “It’s all delicious stuff, deftly and humorously handled,” and I couldn’t agree more. I loved this book and just adored the character of Margaret. She is so real and just brought back junior high so vividly – those insecure years when you do silly things to try to be “normal.” I could really relate to Margaret and my heart went out to her. I felt proud of her as she learned from her mistakes and grew as a person. I think young girls would adore this book because it would serve as a reminder that even though they feel awkward and unsure of themselves, they’re really normal for their age.

Unbelievably, this book is on the list of the top 100 challenged books of 1990 – 2000, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. There is nothing remotely offensive or suggestive in this book. If I had a young daughter, this is exactly the kind of book I would want her to read.
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LibraryThing member sharonstrickland
A simplistic view of a young pre-teen's exploration of her life and the human condition.
LibraryThing member readasaurus
The self-conscious, confused, and endearing heroine, Margaret, makes this book a great one. Margaret faces the adolescent struggles of finding a religious identity, talking to boys, moving and making new friends, and getting her first period. Blume masterfully captures the thoughts of pre-teens.
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This is a great book for late elementary/early middle school girls who need a friend like Margaret.
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LibraryThing member PigOfHappiness
By the title alone, I expected a good deal of religious talk and questioning. While there is certainly a fair amount, I found myself disappointed with the ending. I suppose twelve year-olds don't undergo the same soul searching as an adult so the book is therefor reasonable in its presentation. Oh
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well. Still a decent read. Appropriate for fifth grade and beyond...
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LibraryThing member MsNikki
Well written, never patronizing novel. I loved Margaret's habit of speaking to God as a friend. I foudn it very comforting.
And since at the time I was going through puberty myself I completely related to her concerns. Highly recommended
LibraryThing member jeriannthacker
Eleven year old Margaret is caught up with all the classic coming of age struggles (breasts, periods, boys) and some deeper issues as well (religion and family).
LibraryThing member Katie_H
Everything I know about growing up was learned from this book!
LibraryThing member BridgetteHarmon
Although Judy Blume's breakthough book was the center of significant controversy when it was first published in 1970, it is the Haley Mills of wholesomeness compared with many of the more recent books published for middle school girls. In Are You There God?, Blume follows Margaret's candid
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exploration of her changing body and her relationship with God. Since Margaret's mom was raised Christian and her dad was raised Jewish, her family isn't any religion, and Margaret has an intensely personal relationship with God. In her interactions with the children in her new neighborhood, however, Margaret begins to feel self-conscious about both her body and her religion. I think that Blume did a wonderful job of capturing pre-teen body angst and confusion about religion. I dealt with some of that in my own family, as my mother was a Catholic and my dad was Protestant. Still, I can see how it could be seen as negative that Blume opened the door to talking about adolescent sexuality too openly.
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LibraryThing member katrinaM07
i think it is ok in some cases its not kind of book you want to read everyday for girls
LibraryThing member spartyliblover
Margaret's family moves to the suburbs and as she makes friends and starts at public school where she tries to find out which religion she is and what growing up means. Judy and her friends are well developed and Laura Hamilton's slight voice changes help to bring the characters to life. The plot
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is a classic story of starting at a new school, getting a bra, noticing boys, learning about lying friends, and becoming a young women. The suburban setting is perfect for this story and although most is left to reader, the setting put forth is good enough to create the scene in the readers mind. The audio book version, from 1997, is well read and keeps the listeners attention. This version of the book would be good for middle school students in a public library.
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LibraryThing member LibrarysCat
I suspect this book is only interesting to those of us who came of age in the 1960s or 1970s. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. But today's young people are exposed to so much, so early that I am not sure the topics which probably landed this book on the Top 100 Challenged Books 1990-2000 are really
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not that interesting! But for me, I remember the first time I saw an ad on television for Tampax - I thought I would die of embarrassment. This book brought back that memory. For today's young person, that is mild compared to what they see on television. At any rate, you might try to use this book as the starting point of a discussion about how television and society have changed.
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LibraryThing member WillowOne
Margaret is coming of age in this tale that all women go through. I read this as a child, again as a teen and as an adult. I still love it!
LibraryThing member marciaskidslit
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret was first published in 1970 and is considered to be a classic in the genre of contemporary realistic fiction for young girls. The book serves as a great resource for young girls. The story also touches on the topic of gossip and how it can hurt other people.
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The characters in this book are very convincing and credible. Young readers will see themselves in many of the characters. Older readers will see themselves as they remember their own coming-of-age. The story moves quickly and is an easy read. Humor is interspersed and helps to lighten some of the sensitive moments. The newer paperback edition has a collage on the inner front cover that highlights many of the story’s memorable moments. The book is listed as #62 on the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.
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LibraryThing member kymmayfield
A diary of a twelve year old that is having a hard time with growing up. She is very troubled with everything from boys to religion so she takes her very private worries to God in this diary. A very cute book even tho I read it a very long time ago, i reread it occasionally. I would consider it one
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of my favorite books of all time.
It scored 5 out of 5.
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LibraryThing member belljargurl
As a young girl, this book made me fall in love with reading. It exemplifies what great book can do- make the reader feel as if the author is writing to you specifically because of the immediate connection you feel to the characters and what they say and how they say it.
LibraryThing member Fourborne
Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.


½ (2042 ratings; 3.8)
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