Book cover
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
Judy Blume

I first read this book as a child. I’d guess I was twelve. But I hadn’t thought about it in years, until I watched the recent film adaptation. It was so delightful I decided to read the book again.

It’s a funny thing, reading a book in middle age that you last read when you were a child. In my vague memory, Margaret was so grown up. She was dealing with “girl” things I didn’t know much about, which felt very mysterious. And she and her friends seemed wise and confident. I’m sure my image of Margaret and her friends was influenced by my own “big” sisters, who were (and to some degree still are) mythical to me.

Reading the book on the far-far side of childhood — my own children are now adults — these girls seem so small. Of course Margaret is still wise and at moments she and her friends are confident. But they’re children, with childhood fears. And so unsurprisingly the book feels entirely different to me this time around. I always find this kind of thing interesting. Like a bracketing of my life.

Anyway, the book is beautiful. It is full of real emotion, written in a frank intimate style. And Margaret is such a wonderful character. I love love love stories with small stakes. John Green once wrote:

Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species.

“The foundational assumption of our species.” I like that a lot. He was talking about how people often ask him if his stories are based on something “true”. But I feel this same way about small stories. They matter. The fact that a story about a wise little girl getting her period can matter so much gives me hope because it means every one of us is living a life worth telling.

Are you still there God? It’s me, Margaret. I know you’re there God. I know you wouldn’t have missed this for anything! Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot…

Thanks an awful lot to you too, Margaret.