Literature: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
It's the 1960s
and Margaret, the protagonist of this book
, is a sixth-grade girl who is struggling over the issue of faith. Her mother is a Christian and her father is Jewish, but up until that point she considered herself non-religious. She also deals with the issues of growing up and puberty, such as periods, liking boys, getting her first bra and being jealous of girls who grew breasts sooner, hence the book cover.Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.
is generally considered to be a Young Adult
novel and was written by Judy Blume
in 1970. Because it has puberty and the questioning of religious faith as a large part of its subject matter, it was also subsequently banned from many school libraries and reading lists.
This book provides examples of:
- A-Cup Angst: A major plot point is Margaret and her friends being frustrated over the fact that they haven't started developing breasts yet.
- D-Cup Distress: However, as Laura Danker will happily tell them, it's not all they're cracking it up to be.
- Alpha Bitch: Nancy Wheeler, Margaret's friend, she manipulates her friends into following her lead along with rubbing salt into their insecurities (Gretchen's weight and Margaret's flat chest) and spreading rumors about Laura Danker.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Cool Old Lady: Margaret's Jewish grandmother.
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Laura Danker tells off Margaret for accusing her of sneaking around with 14 year old boys and tells her about how hard it is to develop breasts before your peers do.
- Fake Boobs: Cotton balls.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: Margaret can raise one eyebrow and does it occasionally to get adults to stop asking her questions. She doesn't know why it has that effect, but it does.
- Four Girl Ensemble: More like the "Four Pre-Teen Sensations" — Gretchen is the somewhat mannish one, Janie is shy and sweet, Nancy is a bit of a slut wannabe, and Margaret is the narrator who sees everything.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Prominent throughout the book. Margaret is continuously jealous of various factors involved with puberty; Laura Denker having large breasts, her crush paying attention to other girls, and not getting her period before her friends.
- Hormone Addled Preteens: The book was written in 1970 when it was taboo to talk about puberty outside of health class, so at the time Margaret and her friends may have come off as one of these.
- Huge Schoolgirl: Laura Danker is not only the bustiest girl, she's also tall enough to be almost mistaken for a teacher, during a dance lesson she had to dance with the teacher.
- I Have No Son: Or I have no daughter, or I have no son in law. Part of the plot involves Margaret's grandparents on her mother's side disowning her mother because they are religious bigots and did not want her to marry Margaret's Jewish father. This is why Margaret is raised with no religion. They later express a desire to reconcile, though only with her, and not the father, whom they don't even mention in their letter and act as if doesn't exist when they come to visit. When they leave it's implied they still haven't fully reconciled with her yet.
- Jewish Grandmother
- The Joy of X: Are You There, God? It's Me, X The originator of this variant.
- Moral Guardians: None of the potential reasons for banning this book were very good. Nowadays at least. Is it bad to have an open, but non-religious relationship with God? Is it possible that by not letting your daughters read a tasteful first-hand account of puberty, it will end up like smoking and drugs and be one of those things that they never do?
- Naïve Everygirl: Margaret.
- She's actually listed as an alternate name on the trope's page!
- No Periods, Period: The puberty exception. This is a major plot point of the book. Margaret and her friends are greatly looking forward to starting their periods and are frustrated that they haven't, to the point where Nancy lies about getting hers. Margaret gets extremely upset as her two friends get theirs before she does. She ends up being the next to last one to get hers. Also, Nancy gets extremely upset when she does get hers for real.
- Educating girls about menstruation seems to have been an important part of the book: the newer editions have even been updated so that, instead of describing belts and such, Margaret now uses modern sanitary napkins.
- Precocious Crush: Margaret has one on Moose, a teenager.
- Puppy Love: Filled with it, seeing as it's a book about puberty.
- She Is All Grown Up: Not fully played out in the usual way, but Margaret's father tells her this after she starts wearing bras.
- The Sixties: The novel takes place in this time period, although it was written right at the start of The Seventies.
- Slut Shaming: Happens to the busty Laura Danker, the boys ogle her while the girls treat her as a pariah, especially Nancy who makes up rumors about the girl making out with Nancy's brother and his friend.
- Spin the Bottle: The girls play this game with their classmates at a birthday party, but come to the conclusion that it's lame and decide to play "two minutes in the closet" instead.
- Sweater Girl: Laura Danker wears one of these because she's the only one in her sixth grade class with breasts big enough to pull this trope off.
- Ten Minutes in the Closet: Margaret and her classmates play this at a birthday party, except it's "Two Minutes in the Closet", and they don't have a big enough closet, so they use a bathroom instead.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: God is being addressed. Therefore, it should be Are You There, God? This has bugged readers for decades. Some newer editions have altered the title to account for this.
- With Friends Like These...: Nancy Wheeler, isn't what one would call a sweet and reliable friend.
- Younger Than They Look: In-Universe, Laura Danker. With her busty frame and long legs, she is almost mistaken for being the teacher by Margaret on the first day of school.