Most kids, especially girls, have grown up reading Judy Blume books over the last few decades. And while every one of her books focuses on a different aspect of growing up or experiences that are almost universal for all kids. One of her most famous books, and most often banned Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is now a major motion picture that is going to not only bring back feelings of nostalgia but may bring back some emotions you forgot over the years.
Set in the 1970’s the movie follows Margaret Simon, an eleven-year-old girl who is moving from New York City to New Jersey with her family. The change in location isn’t the only thing going on in Margaret’s life, as she’s forced to find new friends, find her way in a new area, and figure out what religion she wants to be – all while hoping to start going through puberty like others around her are.
While the time the movie, and book, are set in, it strips away the dependence on technology and focuses on the issues that Margaret and her friends are dealing with. Growing up, learning about their bodies and things that all girls deal with at that stage and age of their life. It’s a difficult time for many girls, and with a lot of things changing throughout the decades – these issues are ones that are still there and still important to cover for kids.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret isn’t just a story about a girl getting her first period. That, of course, does happen. But more importantly, the story focuses on Margaret finding out who she is in her new world and her new stage of life. From first crushes, her fascination with puberty and growing up, new friends, and even experiences with bullying. It’s something we all have gone through at a certain point in our lives.
Watching the movie brings back a lot of memories from junior high or middle school – especially when it comes to the character of Nancy Wheeler. Every school has one, and every person who read the book or watches the movie will remember that girl in their own story. The girl who isn’t quite popular, and isn’t quite the mean girl but is willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants and lie along the way to get there. The girl that, looking back now, you may still deny their friend request on social media apps decades later. That relationship is so perfectly played out in the story that it’s easy to put yourself back in Margaret’s shoes and remember the impact that relationship had on shaping who you are now.
Margaret’s relationship with her parents and grandmother are ones that are a welcome sight to see in the movie as well. Accepting, loving, and allowing her to find her own voice and make her own choices. Even if it wasn’t something that was the norm at the time, it’s the type of relationship model that every kid deserves. Their relationship and support of her, even if they don’t understand every decision she’s making is what every kid hopes for. And their rejection of her other grandparents trying to force Margaret to choose a religion helps support her own decision-making ability and agency that she’ll need as she grows up.
Probably the only disappointing part about Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret is the rating of PG-13. The main character herself is only 11 years old and the reality is many kids are starting puberty even earlier than that. But the discussion of puberty is such a charged topic in society right now, the rating puts this movie outside of the “approved” watching age for kids who may be experiencing the same things as Margaret and trying to figure out who they are at that stage of their life.
The movie is true to the book and others will really give readers a throwback to that time of their life or when they first read the book themselves. But probably much like the book it’s based on, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is probably going to be a targeted movie by some groups and attempts to ban it from being seen. However, much like the book, the movie is quickly finding its fan base and the love for the story seems to be overcoming any opposition it may face.
Eagle-eyed fans of Judy Blume, be on the lookout for a cameo of her and her husband walking through the neighborhood when Margaret’s family first moves. It’s just another nod to the fans of her work and another moment that will bring a smile to your face.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is in theaters everywhere this weekend.
About Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
For over fifty years, Judy Blume’s classic and groundbreaking novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. has impacted generations with its timeless coming of age story, insightful humor, and candid exploration of life’s biggest questions. In Lionsgate’s big-screen adaptation, 11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is uprooted from her life in New York City for the suburbs of New Jersey, going through the messy and tumultuous throes of puberty with new friends in a new school. She relies on her mother, Barbara (Rachel McAdams), who is also struggling to adjust to life outside the big city, and her adoring grandmother, Sylvia (Kathy Bates), who isn’t happy they moved away and likes to remind them every chance she gets. The film also stars Benny Safdie (Licorice Pizza, Good Time) and is written for the screen and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen), based on the book by Judy Blume, and produced by Gracie Films’ Academy Award® winner James L. Brooks (Best Picture, 1983 – Terms of Endearment), alongside Julie Ansell, Richard Sakai, Kelly Fremon Craig, Judy Blume, Amy Lorraine Brooks, Aldric La’auli Porter, and executive produced by Jonathan McCoy.
Lionsgate presents, a Gracie Films production.