When she heard that Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret by renowned author Judy Blume was being made into a film, Rachel Allcock was curious to see whether there was ever more to it than the bits she remembered (bras, boys, and periods)…
It’s time to put some big batteries in the torch you got from Santa in 1991 because you need to read Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret under the covers again before you watch its glossy makeover on the big screen.
90 million copies of this Judy Blume novel have been sold since its release date in 1970. Censored and disapproved of in many countries, I certainly never had my own copy. Passed around our secret clubs (ours was more ‘Care Bear Club’ than Margaret’s ‘Pre-Teen Sensations’) the well-thumbed paperback portrayed a gawky yet brazen pre-teen world that taught us what we all wanted to know - but were afraid to ask - about boobs, periods, and boys.
Most chapters include an example of the endearing personal relationship with God she is developing
‘Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. I’ve been to church. I didn’t feel anything special in there, God … I’m sure it has nothing to do with you. Next time I’ll try harder.’
It strikes me that we’re still approaching God with many of Margaret’s questions. Yes, we sometimes doubt God hears us, and many of us are dismayed and confused by organised religion. We’re also still unhappy about our bra sizes, periods and lying friends! As adults, we’re at a loss for what to do about estranged family members, peer pressure and the daily decision whether to wear socks or suffer the blisters. Everyone struggles daily to find confirmation that they are ‘normal’.
many of us are dismayed and confused by organised religion
In this short book, Blume touches on the questions covered in at least five sessions of the Alpha Course. Margaret wonders how to pray, whether God hears her, how to be good enough, what to do when she sins, and what church is all about. There is nothing on Jesus, but that’s not surprising when Margaret’s primary spiritual influence is her Jewish grandmother.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret is a treasure trove of hopes and fears with the potential to stir conversations about God. I can’t wait to read it with my daughter this week, and I’d like to take my book group neighbours on a pilgrimage through the plot if it might re-ignite a deep-rooted quest to find authentic faith in a God who listens and answers our prayers.
I’m also hoping these conversations give me a definitive answer to the question that has plagued me all these years: does *that* exercise actually work? (And is it too late to start trying it again?!)
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is released on 19 May 2023 in UK cinemas.