Judy Blume’s Beloved ‘Margaret’ Is Coming to the Big Screen

Top 3 Reasons Why Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? is one the Best Middle-Grade Novels of All Time

When I read the headline “The ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ Trailer Is Everything” on a Facebook post this morning, I immediately texted my daughter. Judy Blume’s acclaimed middle-grade novel, which has touched the hearts of generations of women, is finally making its way to the silver screen. My 12-year old daughter and I (a 40ish-year old mom) had the same reaction: heart emojis, squeals of delight and the desire to compare notes. We don’t agree on much these days, but we can both attest to holding a special place in our hearts for this novel.

In case you missed this one growing up (and the famous line, “I must-I must-I must increase my bust!”), Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is the story of Margaret, an average sixth grade girl who moves from the city to the suburbs and struggles to find her religious identity. Growing up in an agnostic family with a non-practicing Jewish father and a former Christian mother, Margaret studies different faiths hoping to come to terms with her lack of religious affiliation. Along the way, she joins the “Pre-Teen Sensations,” a group of friends who discuss things like boys, mensuration and bras.

What is it about this 50-year old story that has such timeless appeal? Taking into consideration all the things Judy Blume did right may be helpful for aspiring authors like me. As I embark on the adventure of writing my second young-adult novel, I posed the question to my child and myself. Here are our top 3 reasons why Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret has such broad appeal and staying power.

Top 3 Reasons Why Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? is One of Our Favorites of All Time

1) Judy Blume is goals

Behind every successful, best-selling book is an AMAZING storyteller. Author Judy Bloom has won over 90 awards, written 25+ books, and sold over 85 million copies worldwide. Although she is the author of non-fiction works and adult novels, her sweet spot is young adult fiction. She is the queen of YA who just “gets” the adolescent experience. Blume’s writing hits home with every reader, no matter what generation they claim as their own. Although the novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published in 1970, my daughter born 40-years later connected with the story instantly. Blume’s charming characters and relatable plot perfectly encapsulates early teen friendships and milestones. With her ability to broach delicate topics with humor and honesty, it’s no wonder Blume has had such a prolific writing career. She is an inspiration!

2) Characters that stand the test of time

No cliches here. Blume’s characters are three-dimensional and realistic, and their conflicts and motivations are so darn relatable. It’s no wonder Margaret and the gang have made their way into the consciousness of five generations of young adult readers. Sixth-grade protagonist Margaret Simon’s struggle to fit in as the new kid in middle school, while wrestling with her own anxiety, insecurities and religious identity, is what makes her a timeless female character. Many girls nervous about their changing bodies, social status, and standing with boys delight in Margaret’s inner dialogue about all these important preteen topics. Her prayers to get her first period and be “normal” are so relatable. The rocky dynamics of girl friendships are also on display, along with awkward interactions with boys. What’s not to love about these characters?

3) Some topics never go out of style

Unlike her contemporaries, Blume was not afraid to confront controversial subjects with younger readers, which earned her stories a spot on the list of “banned books.” She was one of the first YA authors to write about puberty, teen sex, birth control, and death. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? revolves around the onset of mensuration, which has long been a taboo topic. Blume brought this inevitable part of becoming a woman into the mainstream and gave her readers a much-needed honest and open portrayal of this monumental rite of passage. She also didn’t shy away from the issue of religion, or lack-thereof, which doesn’t usually factor into mainstream novels.

Books wrestling with big issues family, religion, social class, and puberty never go out of style. No matter whether the protagonist is wearing bell-bottoms and platform shoes or leggings and Uggs, the teenage years are about exploring identity, self expression, and developing sexuality. Thank you, Judy Blume, for writing this important story!

My daughter and I continue to bond over our love for the novel, and hopefully, we will bond over the film which is scheduled to be released April 28, 2023. The movie stars Rachael McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret. So excited! Watch the trailer here.

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