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Literature / Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

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I think it's time for me to decide who to be.
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.

It's the 1960s and Margaret Simon, 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 (though both are non-practicing), but up until that point she considered herself non-religious. It doesn't help that each of her new friends is either Christian or Jewish, and Margaret feels she must make a choice so she can "belong" with one group of kids or the other. 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.

Because it has puberty and the questioning of religious faith as a large part of its subject matter, it was subsequently banned from many school libraries and reading lists.

Nearly fifty years after the book was published, Blume finally agreed to allow a film adaptation of the book to go ahead. It finished shooting in the summer of 2021 and stars Kathy Bates as Margaret's paternal grandmother, Sylvia.


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.
  • An Aesop: As Moose put it, you should get the facts about people rather than make or rely on assumptions about them.
  • Against My Religion: Preparations for Margaret's class's holiday choir concert turn chaotic when a Jewish classmate refuses to sing Christmas songs and a Christian classmate refuses to sing Hanukkah songs, both claiming it's against their religion. Mr. Benedict's appeal to reason fails and he finally compromises by allowing both kids to remain silent during any songs that go against their beliefs.
  • 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.
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  • Apology Gift: Rather, apology vacation; when Margaret's parents realize that her maternal grandparents were using the visit to see their granddaughter as an excuse to leave dramatically and make themselves the center of attention, and Margaret sourly points out they ruined her birthday, they get a mutual Jerkass Realization. Her dad calls his mother to come visit Margaret and cheer her up.
  • Beta Bitch: Margaret becomes one herself when she confronts Laura Danker at the library. The twist: she suddenly realizes she's been blindly following Nancy's lead in ostracizing/tormenting Laura and immediately feels bad for it.
  • Brand X: Feminine supplies are given the brand names Private Lady and Teenage Softies, although Tampax is mentioned once.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Calling out the grandparents in this case. Margaret gets furious when her mother's parents insist that Margaret must be a Christian and to overlook the "sins" of her father being Jewish. She was already angry at them for coming to visit and making her cancel her "vacation," but this was the Rage-Breaking Point.
  • Coming of Age Story: Margaret starts thinking about larger, more abstract, adult things, and this culminates with her first period.
  • Cool Old Lady: Margaret's Jewish grandmother. After the disaster that is Margaret's maternal parents visiting and ruining her vacation as she puts it, her paternal grandmother comes and says that if Margaret isn't coming to her on a cruise, she's coming to visit her grandchild.
  • Cover-up Purchase: Embarrassed about buying menstrual pads for the first time, Margaret and her friends buy other products along with them to curb attention away from the pads.
  • D-Cup Distress: Laura Danker will happily tell you that a big bust is not all it's cracked up to be.
  • 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.
  • Enthusiastic Newbie Teacher: Mr. Benedict is a first year sixth grade teacher. He's a well-meaning but inexperienced teacher who struggles to get his students approval.
  • Faint in Shock: Nancy faints in panic when she gets her period for real. Margaret isn't amused.
  • Fake Boobs: Cotton balls.
  • Fake Period Excuse: A variant. Nancy pretends to get her first period to try to impress her friends. This backfires when it actually does happen later and Margaret witnesses Nancy panic.
  • 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.
  • First Period Panic: After Gretchen has her first period, she tells her friends (who've yet to get theirs) that it's nothing to worry about. Nancy, though, is so jealous that she claims to get hers shortly thereafter, only to panic (with fainting!) the day it happens for real.
  • 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.
  • Heel Realization: After Laura calls her out, Margaret immediately realizes that Laura is right and immediately feels awful about the way she's been treating Laura.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: 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 her father, whom they don't even mention in their letter and act as if he doesn't exist when they come to visit. When they leave it's implied they still haven't fully reconciled with her yet.
  • Jewish Mother: Margaret's paternal grandmother, true to form, nags her son but dotes on Margaret.
  • The Joy of X: Are You There, God? It's Me, X. The originator of this variant.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Margaret's parents eloped because Margaret's Christian maternal grandparents wouldn't accept their daughter's relationship with a Jewish man. Margaret also mentions that her Jewish paternal grandparents weren't thrilled with the relationship either, but ultimately accepted Margaret's mother because of how much their son loved her.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Margaret.
  • New York Is Only Manhattan: Margaret's family moved from NYC at the start of the book. New York is described as nothing but Manhattan.
  • Outdated Name: Some elements of the book have been modernized and some covers make it seem contemporary, however the book is undoubtedly set in the 1960s nevertheless. One of the most obvious signs are the names. One or two kids named "Margaret", "Gretchen", "Nancy", or "Norman" isn't odd but when they're all in one classroom it's unusual. Their names are not so common in the 21st century.
  • Parents as People: The religious issues affecting Margaret affect her parents too. They're good parents for most of the book, until Margaret's maternal grandparents show up... whereupon they cancel Margaret's holiday in order to meet them, only to spend the entire visit using her to placate or annoy her grandparents. They get a Jerkass Realization about this when Margaret says that her grandparents ruined her vacation; as an apology they get her paternal grandmother to come visit and cheer her up.
  • Precocious Crush: Margaret has one on Moose, a friend of Nancy's older brother Evan.
  • 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 '60s: The novel takes place in this time period, although it was written right at the start of The '70s.
  • 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. Sadly this can be Truth in Television for girls with large breasts.
  • 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.
  • Tears of Remorse: After Laura calls out Margaret for participating in the bullying against her, Margaret follows her to church, and enters the confessional booth after Laura leaves. When the priest asks Margaret what she wants to confess, all Margaret can say is, "I'm sorry" before rushing away and breaking down crying.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Laura does this to Margaret for believing the rumors about her and assuming she's a slut because she's more developed than other girls their age. It takes — Margaret instantly realizes Laura's right, and is genuinely sorry.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Margaret finds out that Nancy lied about getting her period, and Nancy faints to boot when it arrives. Nancy goes Oh, Crap! when her mother spills the beans to Margaret, and begs her not to tell the group. Margaret is mad at Nancy for lying and bragging about it, but considers. She keeps the latter's secret.
  • With Friends Like These...: Nancy Wheeler isn't what one would call a sweet and reliable friend, but Margaret continues to think of Nancy as her "best friend" (even after the Laura Danker incident), even though Gretchen and especially Janie treat Margaret better than Nancy does.
  • 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.