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Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970)
de Judy Blume
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I think I read this at some point, but I was a bit older than the protagonist when it came out. I only remember I read a book about a girl talking to God. I mostly wanted to read it again before I watched the movie. I wanted to love the book more than I did, but I'm still curious enough to see the movie. ( )
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 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.
Okay, so I'm not exactly the right age to be reading this book, but I never have read it before and it is a bit of a classic (at least I see it referenced EVERYWERE), so when I spotted it at the library last week I couldn't help but pick it up.
I don't know if this would have done anything for me had I read it at the right age. I don't think I was ever fretting about getting boobs or my period, and when I was around 11 - 12 I was so much like a boy I could never relate to protagonists of books like this. But I did like to read them, to know how girls were "supposed" to be.
I doubt I would've liked the religious part as a kid, but I kinda like it now. Maybe not Margaret's conclusion - that you have to raise your kids as a particular religion because picking one yourself is too hard - but the idea that she really needed some kind of god to care for her, but not in an organized way. She wanted her own personal god.
The cover is pretty hilarous though. Is it meant to resemble the Facebook chat or a text message or something? I don't know, the book doesn't feel completely dated despite being 45 years old, but that cover is a bit much if you ask me ...
I read this book as a girl; just wanted to read it again, this time with an adult perspective. Not bad, but I do think Ms. Blume could have carried the book out just a little farther. It ended so abruptly, I thought.
Although dated as far as a lack of racial diversity, otherwise much of the decades old subject matter here is similar to what’s found in current contemporary middle-grade stories, navigating friendships, trying to fit in, first crushes, and the changes in your body and the judgment that sometimes comes with those changes.
Where this book goes its own way is in it’s exploration of religion which it doesn’t do in much detail nor does it force any one faith on the reader or even on Margaret. I thought it was interesting to see Margaret’s parents give her the freedom to figure out what if any religion works for her and that journey she’s on as well as the estrangement due to religion in her family are things I haven’t encountered all that often in children’s fiction.
Some readers may find the writing style here is too simple for their taste, but the lack of pretension and the way it doesn’t go overboard with descriptions felt right in capturing the voice of an average kid.
The one area I’m torn over is the ending, on one hand, it’s a realistic match for the slice of life tone to not really have any finality to it, on the other hand I craved a slightly more satisfying, less abrupt wrap up.
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Judy Bloom (5 Book Set) Are You There God? It's Me Margaret; Then Again, Maybe I Won't; Otherwise Known As Sheila The Gr de Judy Blume
Judy Blume Essentials: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Deenie; Iggie's House; It's Not the End of the World; Then Again, Maybe I Won't; Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself de Judy Blume
Judy Blume and You: Friends for Life (Boxed Set - Superfudge; Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing; Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great; Starring Sally J. Freedman) de Judy Blume
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)
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.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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